Christmas is the festival of defiance, we defy the lack of crops and harvest with a feast, defy the bleak, cold weather with the warmth of family and friends, and defy the dark days and nights by covering every available surface of our homes, streets, and businesses with as many lights as possible.
However, with accelerating climate change and increased energy costs, that last of the festivities above is one we should take another look at to see if we can still celebrate while being kinder to both our planet and our bottom line.
A very conservative estimate of households and businesses would suggest that just powering our Christmas lights every year costs us more than €12.5M and contributes over 8,000 tonnes of Carbon to the atmosphere (1). This, unfortunately, is not sustainable in the long term, however, we are not suggesting we should give up our Christmas lights altogether (you can take mine over my dead body…), but instead here are a few tips and bits of information that will help you and your business be more sustainable over the holiday.
1. LED Lights
Swapping from older incandescent bulbs to newer LEDs can have a drastic effect on the energy consumed by Christmas lights, with the older lights consuming more than 10 times more energy per metre of lights (2).
For a typical business with 500 m of lights, over the Christmas period, a change to LEDs from older lights could save over €1,100 and 730 kg of CO2 Equivalent – equal to driving a medium-sized car almost 4,500 km!
2. Turning Off
Making sure all lights are off outside of business hours is another change which might seem small but can certainly add up throughout the season. Making the same assumption as earlier of an average business but with a 50/50 incandescent/LED lighting mix, the difference between leaving the Christmas lights on all day and turning them off outside of business hours adds up to almost €700 and more than 450 kg of CO2 equivalent.
Even setting the lights on a timer to only go off for say between midnight and 8:00 would save over €450 and 300 kg_CO2eq.
3. Be Informed
If you wish to work out your business costs due to Christmas lights, then use the below:
Cost of Electricity = (Length of LED Lights x 0.7 + Length of Older Lights x 7) x (Hours On) x (Your Electricity Price (3)) / 1000
By being a bit smarter and a bit more aware, small changes like these can ensure we can celebrate our favourite season sustainably and keep defying the dark nights with our beloved lights for years to come!
(1) 2.2 M homes, 300 k businesses, Electricity price of 0.4 €/kWh, grid CEF of 0.258 kg/kWh, lights on 12 hours/day for 75 days, 50/50 mix of incandescent & LED lights.
(2) G1 bulbs consume 0.7W, while LEDs used in string lights consume less than 0.069 W.
(3) In €/kWh, If unsure use 0.4