One of my most frequent inclusions to a Stewart Blog is what I have defined as the TINSTAANREM axiom — There Is No Such Thing As A National Real Estate Market. It is used to describe how different things are at the same point in time across the country. Comparative cost of living is one of those diverse metrics across the U.S.
To show one aspect of the differing costs across the U.S., Simple.Thrifty.Living. applied the average state residential cost for electricity attributable to outdoor Christmas decorations. Their methodology included the following assumptions:
- 10 Christmas light strands (with calculations for both LED and Incandescent lighting)
- Two inflatables – Santa and a Snowman
- Lights running daily from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. for 34 days (the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s day)
The first table shows the 10 most expensive states for electricity for the 10-light strings and two inflatables assumption including both LEDs and Incandescents. Following that are the 10 least costly states, as noted in the Simple.Thrifty.Living study. Electricity costs for LED light strings are just one-third that of Incandescents. Hawaii came in the most expensive state when comparing the 10 light strings plus two inflatables, and at $46.63 (for Incandescents) was 3.3 times greater when compared to Louisiana at $13.94 (the least cost). When comparing LED light strings (and including the inflatables), the cost differential ranges from a high of $16.87 in Hawaii to $5.04 in Louisiana.
Median household incomes are not parallel — -at least when compared with electricity costs. Hawaii’s 2018 median household income was $80,212 compared to $47,905 in Louisiana. Thus, while Christmas lights cost 3.3 times more to run in Hawaii, median income is just 1.7 times greater.
The next table lays out the specific costs as reported in the study for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. I was surprised by how relatively inexpensive it was to operate the inflatables.
Now apply these cost differences to businesses – particularly those with high electricity and energy consumption. It gives true appreciation as to why some businesses relocate to other locales or where they started up in the first place.
To read the entire Christmas Lights study from Simple.Thrifty.Living click https://www.simplethriftyliving.com/christmas-light-electricity-costs/ . Who is Simple.Thrifty.Living.? According to the website:
“Simple.Thrifty.Living. is a group of regular consumers who have figured out how to get the most out of life by spending the least amount possible on the finer things, and we are here to share those secrets with you. We come from vastly different backgrounds. We have a psychologist. A journalist. A finance expert. A human resources guru. A home decorator. And a vast array of other regular people who are willing to share their tips on saving with you, with expert opinions on everything from the best online loans to the top credit repair reviews.”
Does the cost of running Christmas lights impact consumer behavior? The answer is yes – at least for my household. Last year our electricity bill for December ($185.55) was more than August (173.50). We live in Houston, Texas, and August is typically the hottest month of the year requiring the most electricity to run the air conditioning. Our heating is natural gas fired, so even without the need for A/C in December, our power bill was greater that month – predominantly due to the Christmas lights. Houston’s average monthly temperature highs and lows are 91o – 76o and 63o – 48o for August and December, respectively. The electricity bill in January was $114.57 – a big difference. This year we replaced one-half the older incandescent lights with LEDs and will covert the rest to the more energy efficient LED lighting prior to the Christmas season for 2020. It will be interesting to see the savings in the January 2020 electricity bill.
Good luck to all on the their December 2019 electricity bills – am pretty certain mine will be lower than a year ago.