Clark Griswold Pays How Much to Light His Home?
Clark Griswold is a trendsetter.
He was the first to go all out with Christmas lights on his home. And all out is an understatement. All told, Clark had 25,000 lights strung from the roof to the foundation. That doesn’t include the Santa Clause, eight reindeer and the “Merry Christmas” sign he had … before he took his frustration out on them.
Of course, we’re talking about “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Through the first part of the movie, it seemed Clark would never see his masterpiece come to life. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get the lights to fire. But once he does, it’s one of the most memorable scenes in movie history. But it’s short lived when it goes dark again. Only to hear the angels sing again when it finally comes to life to stay.
Along with Cousin Eddie emptying his RV into the sewer, the “grace” scene at dinner and then Clark going off when he realizes he didn’t get his Christmas bonus, this movie is the Christmas movie.
But what makes this movie what it is is those damn lights.
If you’ve watched the movie, you’ve asked this question: How much would it cost to light that baby?
We finally have the answer.
Obviously, it’s not cheap. This is based on today’s figures.
With the lights he used, as the story says, at 10kWh of electric use would cost him about $1.19 per hour. At eight hours that would cost him $9.52. That’s an extra $10 per day to keep that house lit. If you string it out, sorry for the pun, the entire month of December would drain $295.12 from his account. Back then, Clark didn’t put his lights up until closer to Christmas. Today, people put them up as soon as they finish Thanksgiving dinner. So it wouldn’t have been as much back then for Clark to light his masterpiece.
If Clark did it today, the movie was released on Dec. 1 1989, he might opt for LED or light emitting diode lights. As the story notes, a comparable 100-count string of outdoor LED lights boasts 85 percent reduction in energy consumption compared to incandescent lights. One string of LED lights would use about six watts compared to the 40 from incandescent.
That means Clark’s house would use a mere a 1,500 watts, or 1.5 kilowatts. So over that time span, the story says, if he used LED lights would only cost him about $1.50 a day.
The other aspect to look at is energy use.
As noted earlier, he had 25,000 incandescent lights on his house. One 100-count of incandescent lights uses about 40 watts of power. So 250 strings of those lights, today, would use about 10,000 watts, or 10 kW. The story says an average suburban home uses about 1 kW in a month on average. Clark put 10 times that amount from his house.
This story from Wired goes about finding the cost to light his home in a more scientific method, but it finishes with similar results. It’s very interesting.
The real expense comes from the lights themselves. Since the movie was made in 1989, it’s fair to assume that each light was about 25 cents.
With 25,000 lights, that would cost Clark $6,250.
Today, if you went with LED lights, you easily pay double that. If you went with straight incandescent lights at Home Depot with 25 lights per string, it would cost Clark $8,480. So maybe it would be better to go with incandescent lights, pay a little more for the energy bill then pay over $12,000 for LED lights.
Either way, when the movie airs now and someone asks, “I wonder how much it would cost to light Clark’s house?” you have the answer.
Now, like Clark, you can be the trendsetter.