Friday, December 23, 2005

Efficient holiday lighting 

John Palmer has moved to EclectEcon. He offers some advice on Christmas light management.
With the invention of the little LED Christmas lights that use very little electricity, it probably makes no sense to buy a $30 outdoor timer that will turn the lights off during the day. I haven't done the calculations, but I can readily imagine that leaving even 120 of these lights on for an extra 16 hours a day for a month adds no more than a few dollars to the electricity bill. So why bother with a timer? In fact, if the prices represent the opportunity costs of using the scarce resources in various ways, it would downright anti-social and inefficient to buy a timer for these lights.
Around the Scholar manse, we have neighbors who so decorate their homes that buses pass through our street. I have noted the use of timers at a few (as some go off every day just as I take Littlest to school.) As to the cost of lights, Mrs. has decided that it is festive to have lights throughout the year, so we have five (by my count) different sets of lights to run throughout the year (Christmas, Easter, lighthouses for summer, leaves for fall, Halloween). As it is only 36 lights, the marginal electricity cost is only $1 extra. This has required us to turn off the ground lighting we put in a few years ago (at a cost of several hundred dollars) because they diminished the glow of the festive lamps, but John will tell you that cost is sunk ... and leads to fewer arguments with Mrs.

If this strikes you as fun, see Cheesy Lights. Suggestions for additional sets in comments please; Mrs. may get some more of these for her birthday next month.

UPDATE: Inefficient lighting. (h/t: Club for Growth)