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Candles...the most expensive ways of lighting and heating

The headlines:

Using a candle for lighting is 14 times more expensive than using a typical LED light bulb. An LED bulb is also 45 times brighter. It makes no sense at all to use candles for light.

Candles actually only give off only a tiny amount of heat.

Five tea candles generate about the same amount of heat as a heated throw and cost more than twice as much to run per hour.

Heated "clay candle pots" cost a similar amount to buy as heated throws. So if you want to keep yourself toasty and warm a heated throw makes far more sense than using candles.


It might seem very natural when we see the price of candles to think they are a savvy way to

either heat or light a room.

After all, you can buy a pack of 50 tea candles that last 8 hours each for £8, which sounds like a bargain!

But, even though energy is more expensive than it has ever been, candles are still a VERY expensive way to light or heat a room.


The geeky sums:

Using candles for light

For lighting a room, they cost around 14 times as much as running an LED light bulb.

That tells you how good LED light bulbs are! But what are the calculations behind this?

If you buy 50 tea candles for £8, each one costs 16p.

If a tea candle lasts 8 hours, that is 2p an hour.

For 2p in electricity, an LED light bulb will last 14 hours.

An LED light bulb is a lot brighter too. But how much brighter?

Brightness is measured in a unit called lumens.

A tea candle emits about 10 lumens. A typical LED light bulb emits about 450 lumens so a 5 Watt LED light bulb is 45 times brighter.

So to summarise:

  • A candle for lighting costs around 14 times the cost of using an LED light bulb, and will be 45 times brighter

Another candle comparison

As another comparison, you can buy a large 150 hour candle online for around £8. This also sounds a bargain!....but this works out at a cost of more than 5p an hour to use, so more than twice as expensive as using tea candles.

Please also check out my other article on the costs of lighting for different types of light bulb.


Using candles as a source of heat

Although a tea candle flame does get pretty hot (around 1000C), it very is small. It has to burn its small block of wax pretty slowly to last 8 hours.

As a result a tea candle only gives off around 30 Watts of heat. That is a very small amount of heat when you compare to a fan heater that has a lowest output normally of around 1000 Watts.

You might be able to keep your hands warm over the candle but it won't make a very noticeable difference to the rest of the room.

You could of course burn several together to get any noticeable effect. You might feel SOME benefit in room over several hours if you had say 5 tea candles burning but this would depend on the size of room and how well insulated and draughty it is.

These clay pot heaters are being widely advertised and shown using 5 tea candles.

So in this example, using 5 tea candles in a clay pot it will cost 80 pence in "candle" costs for 8 hours.

So how would this compare to the cost of keeping you warm with a heated throw or heated blanket?

Heated throws use between 120 and 160 Watts depending on the manufacturer.

The running cost of one of these (even on its maximum setting) would vary 3p and 4p an hour.

So, over the same time the tea candles would last a heated throw will cost between 32 and 44p

So to summarise:

  • Using 5 tea candles for a heat source for 8 hours costs 80 pence

  • Using a heated throw will give you a similar amount of heat for 8 hours costs between 32 and 44 pence.

Assumptions on the above: electricity cost 27p/kWh from 1st Oct 2023


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Mark Thompson

Get Energy Savvy - simple practical home energy efficiency information

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