Can You Leave a Lamp On All Night? Check the Safety and Cost!

Can you leave a lamp on all night? For many, the soft glow of a lamp provides comfort, security, or even a beacon for late-night wanderings. But like all things, there are pros and cons to this nightly ritual. Let’s take a closer look at the implications of this common practice, offering safety and cost insights for those who find solace in the luminescence of a night lamp.

TLDR: Can You Leave a Lamp On All Night?

Yes, you can leave it on all night. But if you do, make sure your lamp is in good working order and placed safely so it does not become a fire or safety hazard. Consider using energy-efficient and cool-running LED light bulbs to save on electricity bills.

For those among us who sleep with a light on and love to know more, let’s dive deeper.

Let’s talk safety first: Is it safe to leave a lamp on all night?

The Risks and Precautions of an All-Night Lamp

Fire hazards:

A lamp isn’t just a source of light; it’s a potential fire starter. Here are some common sense precautions if you want to leave your lamp on all night:

  • Bulb Wattage: Using bulbs that surpass the lamp’s wattage leads to overheating and can cause a fire. This is particularly true for traditional incandescent light bulbs. Always check the lamp’s specifications before inserting a new bulb. 
    Be double cautious for lamps with lampshades made of flammable natural materials, like paper or fabrics, that catch fire easily. These might not have adequate space for ventilation around the lamp if stronger, thus hotter running bulb is fitted.
  • Condition of the Lamp: While that antique lamp might add character to your room, its ageing wires could be a fire waiting to happen. Older lamps or those that have been damaged might have frayed wires or loose connections that can spark a fire, especially if the lamp is left on for extended periods. If your lamp starts suddenly flickering, stop using it and have it inspected. If you see any sparks or arcs, turn it off immediately and get it repaired or replaced.
  • Placement of your night light matters: Choose wisely where you put your night lamp. That corner table might seem like the perfect spot for your lamp, but if it’s wobbly or near a frequently used pathway, you’re courting disaster. A lamp placed on an unstable surface or in a high-traffic area of the home is prone to being knocked over. A fallen lamp, especially one with a hot bulb, can ignite carpets, curtains, papers, or other materials on the floor.
  • Proximity to Flammable Materials: While a stack of books might look picturesque next to your bedside lamp, it’s essential to keep flammable materials at bay. Make sure there’s a safe distance between your lamp and any easily flammable items like books, papers, drapes, or bedding.
  • Choosemodern LED bulb: Not all bulbs are created equal. LEDs, with their cool touch, are safer than their incandescent counterparts, which can become scorchingly hot. Hot light bulb is not only a fire hazard but also can pose a burn risk to children or pets who might touch the lamp.

Speaking of Children and Pets:

Hazards for Children and Pets:

If you live with small children or pets that tend to wake up at night and wander around the house or into your bedroom, there are a few more considerations for their safety:

  • Curiosity Factor: Children and pets are naturally curious. They might touch, pull, or knock over lamps. Make sure that lamps are out of their reach or are securely anchored.
  • Cord Management: Dangling cords are so much fun and temptation to pets and little ones. Make sure that any cords from your night lamp are neatly bundled and, if possible, hidden or secured to prevent accidental tugs or trips.

Let’s talk about the cost of running a lamp next:

How much does leaving lights on all night cost?

The continuous all-night operation of a lamp can impact your energy bills – particularly if you have several of them around the house. The type of bulb you use and its wattage has a significant impact on energy consumption and your cost. On average, it will cost from $2.40 for an energy-efficient LED, to $19 for a traditional 40W incandescent bulb to leave the light on all night, per lamp, per year.

Let’s do some maths to validate those numbers and calculate the cost of leaving your lamp on overnight for a year:

How long is your lamp on: 2920 hrs per year

There are 365 days in a year and let’s say you are lucky enough to sleep the recommended 8 hrs per day. In that case, your lamp will be on 365 days x 8 hours = 2920 hours per year.

How much does the electricity cost: 16.14 cents per kilowatt-hour on average 

Let’s get some average costs from the U.S. Energy Information Administration website:

The average residential cost across the entire US in May 2023 is 16.14 cents per kilowatt-hour – let’s use that number for this exercise.

But your mileage may vary here: If you are a lucky Idaho resident, you are paying only 10.79 cents per kilowatt hour. Your cost is almost 3x more at 31.32 c/kWh if you live in Connecticut or four times more at 42.23 c/kWh in Hawaii.

What type of bulb do you use: 400-500 lm

For our all-night lamp, we assume you are using a small 400-lumen light bulb. This is one of the lower-intensity lights – not bright enough for reading, but good for night illumination.

Your cost to run the light all night will largely depend on the type of bulb you chose:

Type of lightDescriptionBrightness:
400-500 lm
IncandescentThe traditional “Edison” filament-type bulb40 W
HalogenHalogen lamps are about 28% more energy-efficient30 W
FluorescentModern compact fluorescent bulbs are very energy-efficient7 W
LEDLEDs are the latest iteration of the humble light bulb, the most energy-efficient5W
Energy consumption of different types of light bulbs

Putting it all together:

2920 hrs per year = 2.92 kilo-hours. To calculate how many kilowatt hours per year your bulb will use (the “kWhr/year”), we multiply the bulb wattage by 2.92

We are using the average cost across the entire US of 16.14 cents per kilowatt-hour to calculate the yearly cost. Simply multiply the “kWhr/year” by $0.1614 to get the total cost (or adjust the number to your local rate).

Here is the Average Cost of running your lamp all night per year in a handy table:

How much does leaving a light on all night cost per year?
Type of light bulb400-500 lumen
Bulb Wattage
Energy consumption
Avg Cost of running your lamp all night per year
(at $0.1614 /kWh)
Incandescent40 W116.8$18.85
Halogen30 W87.6$14.14
Fluorescent7 W20.4$3.30
Table calculating how much leaving a light on all night will cost per year

The learning: LED Energy-Efficient bulb is the cheapest as well as the safest option for a lamp that is left on all night

As you see from the table, modern LED bulbs consume far less energy than traditional incandescent ones. They not only save on bills but also reduce the carbon footprint.

As we discussed in the safety section above, traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs can also overheat and pose a fire risk if left on for too long.

The winning type of bulb for overnight use is LED, which is both energy-efficient and safe for extended use for extended periods – such as all night long.