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Leave Your Lights On

Energy prices are on the rise, and we’re constantly reminded of climate change—as I write this, wild fires are burning in Australia. Is it possible that leaving your Christmas lights up is worthwhile?

When the clocks fell back in early November, the darkness signalled that winter was coming. We protected our plants, raked leaves, took in the patio furniture and scrambled to get those exterior renovations done before the snow flew. In time, strings of colourful lights started popping up on houses and trees to festively decorate our windows and yards. These lights give a sense of hopefulness while we prepare for what many consider a pretty bleak season. They remind us of time spent with friends and family, gifts exchanged and meals shared.

Now, the holidays are over and tradition bodes that the lights and decorations get removed by Old Christmas Day, January 6th. In the same way the colourful houses add cheer to our usually drizzly and grey city, what if leaving Christmas lights up can add some brightness to an otherwise dark time? Twinkling spots illuminate public space. Lit up streets are safer for dog walkers, early morning runners and late night stumblers.

But lights draw electricity, isn’t that costly and wasteful? If you have LED strands it’s not that bad. Lighting up LEDs on the upper, lower and porch eaves of a two storey house will use the same amount of energy 6 hours a day as turning a microwave on for 4 minutes. (Not much)

Some Canadian cities have latched on to this idea of lighting up winter nights. Montreal is in their 10th year of ‘Luminothérapie’ an installation that can be described as ‘an illuminated playground in the Quartier des Spectacles’ Glowing teeter totters! Each year Halifax has a Parade of Lights, a nighttime illuminated holiday parade and Edmonton is focusing on celebrating their winter city.

So St. John’s, how about leaving some lights on to keep the cheer alive throughout the cold dark winter ahead?


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