Christmas Lights: Festive, but Squandering Our Electricity and Money

Kiana Schmitt, Staff Writer

In the South Bay, there is one thing you can always count on seeing during the month of December: suburban houses generously adorned with Christmas lights.  These rows and rows of brightly-lit, multicolored bulbs merrily dangling from windows and roofs, and entwined around trees and porches are almost certain to put you in a jolly mood upon observation.  Yet does the trivial benefit of getting into the “Christmas spirit” really outweigh the costs of encompassing your house with energy-sucking, pollutant-emitting glass bulbs?
It is not a secret that Christmas lights require a great deal of energy to illuminate houses. According to a report commissioned by the Department of Energy, Christmas lights consume more than six terawatt-hours per year.  This is equivalent to the total electricity consumption of 500,000 homes!  This shocking figure must also be taken into account when examining how it affects our electricity bills.  According to consumerenergycenter.org, “year-round, lighting can account for as much as 25 percent of a home’s electrical use.” The cost of additional lights, lights which stay on for an average 10 hours a night for almost a whole month, combined with increased heater usage results in skyrocketing utility bills. Certainly no family wants to be burdened with excessive expenses during our time of economic turmoil.   In addition, these lights are not only a waste of electricity and money.  Another negative effect was explained by Environmental Club president Andy Park (11), who stated that “pollution is created more rapidly and released into the environment” as a result of the yuletide luminosity. However, in Kahjal Merchant’s (10) opinion, “nature finds its way to keep [Christmas] green, considering that during December the winds start picking up and cutting off our electricity in Torrance and therefore turning off the Christmas lights.”  Jenna Hoover (12), an active member of Environmental club agreed about the immense usage of electricity, and optimistically reported that “many people are taking a more environmentally-friendly approach to Christmas lights by purchasing LED Christmas lights which reportedly use 3-33% less electricity than traditional lights. In fact, this year, the South Bay Environmental Services Center and Southern California Edison hosted a light exchange here in Torrance where they gave free LED Christmas lights to any Southern California Edison customer who brought in their traditional lights.”
So this year, if you absolutely must deck out your home in lights to publicly display your holiday spirit, try the greener alternative—Mother Earth and your wallet will be thanking you!