It is the time of year that we dig out our seasonal decorations, put up our trees, and get our homes ready for the holiday festivities. Personally, I do not brave the cold and wind to climb ladders to hang the lights. I like my electric bill just the way it is, without the extra seasonal increase of having thousands of lights adorning my gutters. I seem to be one of the few these days. Christmas decorations were appearing a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving in our area, slowly at first, then reproducing more often than the Duggers. On all the houses, these holiday light displays have become an example of excess. The glowing goodness of minimalistic decorations is a thing of the past. Dim neighborhoods become glowing effigies that would even make the Griswalds proud. In the time of economic downturn and higher energy costs, why is it that we feel a need to continue on this over-the-top holiday display?
Call me the Grinch, but I see little reason for the excess of lights and holiday displays. The cost could be as little as $70 on simple tree lighting to well over a $1000 for larger and more excessive displays. The average power usage for a strand of lights is 100 kilowatts per month depending on the amount of time they are left on. Some of the large displays will use more power in the six weeks than most mid-sized neighborhoods use all year.
While looking on the internet, I found a few sites that are dedicated to these displays. One blog, from 2007, had links and information for the Top 10 Excessive Lights Displays written by Adrian Corscadden. Chances are, in the three short years that this list was made, there have been even bigger displays created. If you want to see how elaborate some of these can get, youtube.com offers up the glowing displays from the comfort and warmth of your couch. One good example is the display from Mason, Ohio that was created by Carson Williams, whose display won the attention of Miller Brewing Company for one of their holiday commercials. When this was first released on the internet, it was thought to have been a hoax done by stop action editing but Snopes.com debunked the rumors. You can learn more about the display set to the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards in Winter” on Snopes website. In the spirit of saving the planet while promoting the commercialization of the holidays, here are a few tips to have your Christmas fruit cake and eat it, too.
- LED Christmas lights: Though these may be a little more difficult to find at your local Wal-Mart, your electric bill will definitely appreciate the power savings of the LED lights. Using the LED lights will save 80-90 percent on regular incandescent bulbs.
- Solar Christmas lights: Solar Christmas lights eliminate the issues with the increased energy cost as they use the sun to recharge the batteries that power the lights. Similar to other landscaping lights, they store energy during the daylight hours and come on once it is dark. Though it may be less expensive to run, they rely on clear skies during a much shorter daylight season.
- Let the professionals do it: Most communities have a public display set up where, for a small charge, families can drive through and enjoy the light show. It is much better to pay the $20 per car load once, than to pay the $600-1000 for a display at home. Think of all the time that could be spending with the family instead of climbing ladders and stringing lights.
It is a season of celebration, no matter what your preferences or beliefs may be. The only request is that we look beyond our narcissistic ways and reduce the light shows. Is there a real need to purchase the cheesy, ten foot inflatable Santa to blind the neighbors across the street? Do we need enough light glowing to be seen from the air? Let’s have some common sense.
Until next time…