How do the holidays and their gaudy light displays affect energy use?
How do the holidays and their gaudy light displays affect energy use?—Alexa Satke, Forest Hill
Despite all the lights (and this was true even before the advent of LEDs), energy usage is actually at its lowest when people are at home. Business and industry are huge consumers of electricity, so the more time workers spend off the job, the less power we use. For example, in-store fridges and freezers—while not shut off over the holidays—don’t have to adjust for customers constantly opening and closing the doors in search of the last half-litre of Chunky Monkey. Office computers are major power drains, as are elevators. (Those wouldn’t use quite as much if we weren’t such jerks: a recent poll found that 42 per cent of us allow the elevator doors to close when we know someone else is coming.) In other words, don’t be so quick to scoff at your neighbour’s megawatt nativity scene. During the three days around Christmas, Toronto uses about two-thirds less power than usual; over the last two weeks of the month, the city uses one-third less. In fact, Torontonians are surprisingly energy conscious during the winter—the summer, however, with its blasting AC, is another story.