Archive for December, 2009

All Them Holiday Lights!

Sunday, December 13th, 2009


Sustainable Holidays

The Holidays challenge the growing eco-friendly consciousness of our society. It is very hard to drive at night without loving the holiday lights so many homes sport and at the same time, one must wonder how much more carbon is being released into the atmosphere, how much more pollution, and how diminishing resources are effected by our current practices of firing up our communities every holiday season..

This column would never suggest to NOT celebrating. At the same time, in a society that is based primarily on non-replenish able energy sources whose usage degrades the environment it is hard to justify all the disposable sets of lights we use and the amount of time they are left on. Incidentally, the same argument carries over to landscape lighting and in all honestly I have balked at adding landscape lighting to my home for exactly the same reason.

Until we complete the conversion from a petro chemically based society to one  that relies on solar, wind, methane, and whatever clever new ways of harvesting clean energy emerge, we are all compelled to use less and use it wisely and so  compromise is to live by the “less is more” philosophy. If you already have your lights, buy a timer for them. Don’t let them run all night, instead set them to prime viewing hours, well after dark, and off before midnight or earlier. There are a huge variety of timers out there and they will increase the longevity of bulbs,  and save you money on electricity.

Considering limiting your displays on time to very short or no hours on weekdays, when folks are wrapped up in their day to day experience, and longer hours on the weekends, when more holiday visiting and travel occurs. Limit the number of lights you use. This is the antithesis of the “do your house up to beat the Jones’” philosophy. Only have lights in key areas that are the focal point of yourself and neighbors. Use LCD lights. Incidentally the LCD approach is a great landscape lighting compromise as well. LCD strands cost more up front, but use significantly less electricity than traditional strands and last more than ten times as long. Higher end LCD displays change color, and can be programmed with music.

Install your displays a little later, resist decorating after Halloween or even the day after Thanksgiving, and take it down early. This is the come late leave early approach to going to parties you ambivalent about applied to displays.  Finally, there is the no lights approach. Honestly my family is extremely resistant to this one and it is almost an impossible sell. You might pull it off with heavy use of natural (mulchable) greens and maybe  using candles in some way shape or form, but candles will require some real creativity to make it work without setting the neighborhood on fire.