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How much money does New York save by going LED?

Now that cities have started putting up their annual holiday displays, some people may wonder just how much cities and shopping districts can save by switching to more efficient LED holiday lighting. So we decided to use the most famous tree of all – the 74-foot tall spruce at Rockefeller Center – as a case study.

The winter display uses 30,000 LED lights strung on five miles of wire. When the city announced four years ago that it would be switching from outdated incandescent to green LED lighting, officials estimated that switch would reduce energy consumption from 3,510 kilowatt hours to 1,297 kilowatt hours per day. That’s an overall savings of 2,213 kilowatt hours per day, or about as much electricity as a 2000-square-foot home might use in a month.

This year, the tree will be on display from Nov. 30 to Jan. 6, for a total of 38 days. As of November, a kilowatt hour of electricity in New York cost about 19 cents. So to do the math:

  • Savings of 2,213 kilowatt hours per day x 38 days = 84,094 total kilowatt hours saved over the holiday season
  • 84,094 kilowatt hours saved x $0.19 per kilowatt hour = $15,977 saved

I’m not sure what kind of rate the owners of Rockefeller Center actually pay for their electricity, since they’ve built a solar energy array on a nearby rooftop that generates power throughout the year. But based on the prices that regular folks pay, the switch to more efficient LED Christmas lights there amounts to a savings of $16,000 for the duration of the holiday lighting season. No wonder that municipalities represent one of the fastest growing purchasers of LED holiday lights.