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Do the longest nights of the year mean the highest energy bills of the year?

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Yes, it is that time of the year again! It is the time of the year when houses look like something out of a movie with all the festive lights and holiday props, and as much as we all enjoy driving down a street with houses all decorated and lit up in the month of December, I always wonder how much homeowners must be spending on their power bill for all those decorations. The question is, is it energy efficient to have bright lights in and outside the house for 30 or so days while celebrating the spirit of the holidays?

A lot of people who still use the incandescent holiday lights are probably asking, “What’s the deal with these holiday lights?” when they receive a disproportionate bill at the end of the month. Homeowners who still use this old-fashioned type of lighting with large outdoor holiday lights are paying on average an additional $75.60 for a month of holiday lights. This is on top of holiday gifts for friends and family shipped far and wide, and could be put towards something else, like upgrading to a programmable thermostat in order to save money!

Wondering what the solution is? It is simple! Upgrading to LED holiday lights will save on average $74.95 if you switched from large incandescent outdoor holiday lights to the large LED outdoor lights. You definitely cannot beat those savings! For a learning resource that explains the journey to energy savings, check out this activity for grade six and up: Let’s Compare Holiday Lights!

The grade three class I visited at Portland Estates Elementary knew all about energy efficient holiday lights even before I arrived on the 20th of November. When I walked into the class, there were holiday lights hanging in front of the class, and, you guessed it! These were LED holiday lights. The students were very excited to show me that they were energy efficient!

While I was at Portland Estates Elementary, I showed students some different decorations to make instead of buying brand new ones. Upcycling is a great way to not only save money but also help the environment because when we use something new, we dispose of old items that never really go away. Examples of great things to make for Holiday decorations are paper stars using used paper, mini Christmas Trees made of an old magazine, and snowflakes made from newspaper. For more ideas, you can check out our awesome support packages such as Green Gifts or Green Holidays. The students also let me know what they could do differently to be more energy efficient such as turning off lights when they leave a room or taking shorter showers.

There are so many different ways to enjoy the Holidays without crippling your bank account or ending up with big bags of garbage in January 1st full of all the wrapping paper and packaging that would have been used to wrap gifts.

The biggest and most effective decision would be to start by switching from incandescent to holiday lights. It makes such a difference to your overall holiday experience when you can save money and give the gift of energy efficiency to the earth at the same time!  

~Ruvi Mugara, Engagement Officer

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