Christmas Lights? They Have a Million

PHOTO Faucher family house lit up with decorations for the holiday season of 2010
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Keeping up with the Joneses probably has its limits in one Delaware neighborhood this Christmas.

Britney Spears may have lavishly decorated her home in Calabasas, Calif., complete with twinkling lights and Santa's helicopter on her rooftop, but she is way behind the Fauchers of New Castle, Del.

For years, the Faucher family has gone the extra mile in Christmas decor, displaying about 1 million lights around their suburban home.

The website HouseLogic estimated that the family would spend $82,320 on electricity if they use the traditional C7 bulbs, using 5 watts each. One million of those multicolored lights could cost $686 per hour, burning four hours each night for a month.

Is that remotely possible? A spokesperson for Delmarva Power said a typical residential customer in Delaware around this time of year spends $135 a month for electricity, using roughly 1,000 kilowatt-hours. At that rate the Fauchers would be using more power than 600 average homes.

Rich Faucher, an electrician by trade, would not say what the family electric bill was, but said the $82,000 estimate is "not even close" to what he spends. He uses LEDs and mini-lights that provide "extremely energy-efficient lighting," he said.

Faucher and his wife, Linda, started the tradition in New Jersey. Driving with their infant daughter, they were frustrated they could not find any Christmas lights and decided to decorate their own apartment. The annual display evolved into a quest by the Fauchers and their six children to raise money for children's charities.

Faucher family home

"It's a tough economy out there. Not every mom and dad can afford to take their child to the mall," said Faucher. "You can come here and take all the pictures you want and in an environment that sets a beautiful picture for Christmas."

Christmas Lights: Doing it Big

On Saturday, about 200 to 300 people came to see the Faucher residence with its new 20-foot tree to drop off toys, according to Marine Corps officer William Pressley, a coordinator for Toys for Tots in Delaware.

He said three members of the Marine Corps were present to collect an entire van of gifts, which they estimate to be about 1,500 toys. Pressley said the Fauchers have partnered with Toys for Tots for over 31 years.

The Fauchers have also used their lighting prowess to decorate the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware for its "Share the Night" fundraiser for the past 15 years. The Ronald McDonald House displays a light for every donation made to defray the costs of families residing there.

"After the first year of doing it ourselves, we realized it was too much, he and his family have come totally as a volunteer effort," said Pam Cornforth, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware. "He's very generous."

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