Anecdotal and eyewitness evidence around the area suggests that many people have put their Christmas lights and decorations up earlier than usual this year, and that quite a few displays are larger than in the past. This is borne out by a new BC Hydro report, which finds that British Columbians are keeping the holiday spirit alive at home amidst COVID-19 by adding brighter, more elaborate lighting displays and decorations this year.
The report — “Home for the holidays: British Columbians brightening up with more elaborate holiday displays” — finds more than 90 per cent of British Columbians feel that COVID-19 will impact how they celebrate the holidays. With most people planning on spending more time at home this Christmas season, about 20 per cent plan to do more decorating indoors and outdoors this year to create some holiday cheer.
Elaborate holiday displays account for about three per cent of the provincial electricity load during the holiday season. That number is expected to grow this year as British Columbians ramp up their holiday décor. Sixty per cent of British Columbians plan to put up outdoor lights, and two groups in particular plan to step it up this year.
There is the “holiday enthusiast”, made up of the nearly 22 per cent of people who plan to put up an average of eight strands of lights (up almost 10 per cent since 2018). Then there is the “holiday fanatic”: the nearly 10 per cent of people who plan to put up more than 10 strands of lights on average in order to create a “mega display”. This is up more than three per cent since 2018.
The increase in mega displays has led to the increasing popularity of inflatable decorations such as blow-up Santas and snowmen. About 15 per cent of outdoor decorators plan to put up three or more inflatables, and five per cent plan to put up six to 15.
While these brighter displays will bring some much-needed cheer to 2020, they could also lead to higher electricity bills for some. About 25 per cent of British Columbians indicated they still use some incandescent lights to decorate, which are up to 90 per cent less energy efficient than LEDs. Big inflatable decorations can also result in higher than expected bills, because they are often run 24/7 and use a lot more power than a strand of LED bulbs. The survey also found that more than 40 per cent of respondents admitted to leaving their lights and decorations on for more than eight hours per day.
To save energy and money this year while brightening up the neighbourhood, BC Hydro recommends switching to LED lights if you haven’t already. Replacing eight strands of incandescent lights with an equivalent number of energy-efficient LEDs can save you up to $40 over one holiday season. LED holiday lights also last 10 times longer than incandescent lights, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours.
You can also reduce electricity costs by using a timer, so that lights are only on for certain periods of time.