Christmas lights vs. Christmas Candles
In December I did a bunch of information gathering on the price of electricity for christmas decorations. I found the energy used by christmas lights to be remarkably affordable, less than a dime per hour in all but the most outrageous outdoor decorative displays.
Not long afterward, I came upon the wonderful light and scent of a top quality holiday candle: A Yankee Candle. These distinctive candles deliver a different holiday atmosphere, but at what price?
The first step was to determine how much they cost, and how long they would last. I bought a "North Pole" scented jar candle and brought it home to test its longevity.
With perfect timing, this Christmas-themed 22 ounce Yankee Candle in a jar was on sale, but the regular retail price is $28.99.
The candle came with instructions, and the label on the bottom claimed the candle would burn from between 110-150 hours. I needed to double-check those numbers.
I lit the candle.
Candles work by having a small flame burning just above a block of solid fuel, usually wax. The flame melts the fuel into a liquid, which saturates the wick and is sucked up the wick into the bottom of the flame, where that liquid fuel is burned.
Burning the entire Yankee candle took forever. After 53 hours, the volume of wax was hardly scratched. The jar was too wide, and the house was too cold to allow the full width of wax to melt from the heat of the tiny candle flame.
Some wax was left clinging to the side of the jar.
After 120 hours, it looked like the candle was at the two-thirds mark. I wasn't burning the candle continuously, as hilarious as that would have been. Continuously burning, this would have been the end of the fifth day. In reality, the candle had been burning a few hours every night and this was the tenth night.
The instructions had specified that I should cut the wick to a length of 1/8th inch. Easy when the candle is new, but when the wick is at the bottom of a jar, it is pretty much impossible.
Around the 160 hour mark, I stopped burning the candle through the night. The end was near and I wanted to be awake to catch the moment when the candle burned out.
I wasn't sure I'd ever even seen a candle burn out.
After 179 hours, the flame shrank and shrank, down to a tiny glowing spark, and then it went out. I got 179 hours of candle time! I wasn't trying to stretch the life of the candle, I would have welcomed a short candle lifetime, but the Yankee Candle wouldn't have it. The Yankee Candle kept. on. burning.
I think the company estimates are extremely conservative so that they don't disappoint their stopwatch-toting fans.
Tested Lifetime of a Yankee Candle: 179 hours.
A $28.99 candle divided by 179 lifetime hours equals 16¢ per hour.
This means that if you buy a regularly-priced Yankee Candle and burn it during the holiday season, it costs 16¢ per hour, almost twice as much as the electricity needed to light a truckload of christmas lights.
Isn't that amazing? One fragrant candle can cost more than a whole web of christmas lights?
At 9¢ and 16¢ per hour, I'm not suggesting that either one of these is expensive, but the lights had further revealed themselves as a terrific holiday decorating value.