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Do You Leave Your Christmas Lights On All Night?

by Ryan Guina

christmas-lights.jpg I accidentally left my Chrsitmas lights on last night. It was still dark out when I awoke, and I could see the glow through the window. I went outside to turn them off right away, and since we only have a medium size tree wrapped in lights, I don’t think it used enough energy to make a noticeable difference in our utility bill.

But one thing I did notice was that several other houses on our block still had their lights on. When I thought about it, I realized those same lights were on every morning for the past couple weeks. They have a larger light display than we do, and I am sure they will have a noticeable change in their electric bill next month.

That got me thinking… Why do people leave the lights on throughout the night? It doesn’t make sense to me to leave them on after a certain point because almost everyone is asleep and there will not be anyone around to enjoy them. I think leaving the lights on all night needlessly uses a large amount of electricity and costs people a lot of money. I don’t think the electric companies mind, but is it the responsible thing to do?

I normally turn our lights off right before bed. Do you leave your Christmas lights on at night? If so, why?

Photo credit: dissolute.


Published or updated December 29, 2011.
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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Traciatim

I unplug mine just before bed, usually sometime around 11:00PM. Though we only have our tree and some up around the inside of the window rather than outside. If they were outside I may just leave them on unless they were on a timer. By the time I remembered they were on I would probably be wandering outside in the frozen wasteland of Canada in a housecoat trying to unplug something.

We actually have a remote control power plug for outside devices that I (have yet to mount, being lazy) will be using to turn on the block heater in the car in the morning. We will do something similar for lights when we have a bigger display (we get more and more each year, this is the first in our new home).

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2 Mrs. Micah

I think some people do it because they see their light display as a kind of public art. They want people who drive by to enjoy it.

We only ever had candles in the window on a timer that had them go off @10pm. I think they came on @ 5:30pm.

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3 glblguy

nope, turn ours off when we go to bed. Waste of electricity, plus I am afraid to death something will short and the house will catch on fire.

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4 InTheHole

I have ours on a timer. I have it set so that the lights go on from 5pm-10pm and then on again in the morning from 6am-10am (we only have sunlight from 11am-3pm where we live)

A neighbor of ours has a huge display with a blowup lighted train with a merry-go-round inside of it. They leave them on 24/7.

I can’t even imagine what their electiric bill looks like!

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5 Lynnae @ beingfrugal.net

Last year we had ours on a timer. I think they came on at 5:30 and went off around 11.

This year my husband forgot to dig the timer out of the box, so I leave them on when I go to bed, and he turns them off when he gets home from his night job around 2 am. I don’t turn them off, because it’s cold outside, and I hate being cold. :)

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6 Ryan

Using a timer is a great idea. We just have a small display, and we do it manually. I guess for a few bucks, a timer would be a worthwhile investment – especially for a large display.

Mrs. Micah, I understand the public art, but there are very few people driving by at 2am; especially in the secluded cul-de-sac that I live on.

InTheHole, You must be pretty far up north! Cold, cold, winters, but I bet your summers are gorgeous! :)

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7 Early Retirement Extreme

We just have one of the “old-fashioned” non-electrified ornaments on the door.

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8 Thryah

We don’t put christmas lights outside, as we live in the country, but we do turn the trees (we have two, it’s a big house, and a tradition we have, i’ll explain more if someone asks) off when we go to bed, not really having them on all the time anyways. Our light bill comes from outside lighting we have year-round. The lights are on timers though to go off about the time we would all be in bed, and turn on about the time it gets dark, we adjust as the season changes.

With christmas lights though, the electric company here runs a contest, whoever has the best display gets the entire month of december (maybe Jan. too, not sure) for free. Problem is the same person wins it every year, but some of the other houses look nice just the same.

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9 SingleGuyMoney

My neighbor put their lights up about a week ago and they’ve left the outside lights on 24/7 since they put them up. I too think it is a waste of electricity.

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10 Dividends4Life

I too use a timer. The come on around 5p and go off at about 10:30p. I had to go to multiple timers this year, since I overheated the one I used in the past. With multiple timers they never go on or off at exactly the same time but are within 5 minutes.

Best Wishes,
D4L

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11 Ryan

Wow, everyone came up with some great ideas… :)

Glblguy – yeah, I don’t like the idea of lights shorting out, especially in wet weather (if the plugs get covered in snow or ice).

Thryah, two Christmas trees? There must be an interesting storyline there! :)

Single Guy, unless someone lives in the far north, I don’t understand why they would leave them on 24 hours a day. That seems like a HUGE waste of resources and money! Especially when a $10 timer can fix that problem!

D4L, Good idea to even out the load. Pulling too many amps through an outlet can be a fire hazard.

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12 Laura

We used to have two trees too – upstairs for the family and a little tree downstairs (costs about $15 for a real one) for excess ornaments and a place to put gifts that would be going out of the house.

I remember having one little lighted thing in my window that we would leave on all night, couldn’t have used much electricity (only a dozen little bulbs) and made the nights Christmas-y, but outer lights and the tree were off at night.

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13 Ryan

Hi Laura,

We used to leave small electric candles on in the windows all night, but those don’t pull many amps or use a lot of electricity. What I just don’t understand is why some people leave everything on all night – outer lighting display, regular tree, and any other decorations?

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14 Flexo

Excessive Christmas lighting is definitely a symbol of the overly materialistic season. I can’t bring myself to view garish displays of electricity as “art.” I prefer the more subtle displays, and of course, use a timer.

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15 Ryan

I agree, Flexo. Our house has one tree with simple white lights, which is what I prefer.

As far as art, I think if you have a light show midi-time synched to music (like the YouTube videos), that qualifies. Most of the time I see excessive displays, I drive by and wonder “why?”

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16 NatalieMac

We always turn off all of our lights when we go to bed, except for Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve the lights stay on all night and are lit when we wake up Christmas morning. I guess it’s so Santa can find our house?

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17 Ryan

NatalieMac, That sounds like a lovely tradition! :)

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18 Johnnycomelately

How do you set your light timers? Thanks Johnny

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19 Ryan

Johnny,

I just unplug my Christmas lights before going to bed; I don’t have a timer. But they only cost a few dollars at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or a similar store. The directions should be fairly easy to follow.

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20 E.A.

I came across this website after doing a search because we have a neighbor that leaves her on all night. She has a large display and it shines into my room. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would do that, especially during times like these when money is tighter and we all are trying to be “greener”, waste less, and consume energy. Personally I think it’s very idiotic to do because of the risk of fire. I guess they just must really be infatuated with them.

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21 Ryan

E.A., I never understood why people leave their lights on all night, either. I think it’s great that people want to get into the spirit of the season, but I don’t understand they need or desire to waste money by leaving lights on when no one will be awake to enjoy them.

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22 Addi

I unplug our christmas lights every night. My husband thinks I should leave them on all night….We got into a debate. He thinks the majority of people leave them on. I think the majority turn them off at bed time. We made a bet to see who was right (our common practice when we can’t agree). The results seem to be 50/50.

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