Report: A tale of two holidays – minimalist decorating increasing but so are ‘mega’ lighting displays
VANCOUVER: A new BC Hydro report1 finds while many British Columbians are embracing budget-friendly holiday decorating this year, ‘mega’ holiday lighting displays are expected to increase.
The report titled “Bright on a budget: Some British Columbians embracing holiday decorating minimalism, but mega lighting displays are on the rise” [PDF, 147 KB] finds about 60 per cent of British Columbians are facing cost pressures this holiday season, leading some to tone down the holiday décor at home. While nearly 60 per cent are going for the minimalist approach – those who plan to put up one to two strings of outdoor lights and maybe an electronic or inflatable decoration or two – or not decorating at all, ‘mega’ decorators are not going to let budget constraints stop them from celebrating. In fact, ‘mega’ displays are expected to go up by 50 per cent compared to 2020.
“About 15 per cent of British Columbians said they put up outdoor holiday ‘mega’ displays each year,” said Kyle Donaldson, BC Hydro spokesperson. “Of those, 100 per cent said they will be doing another mega display this year, despite the cost concerns that many may have after a difficult financial year.”
A ‘mega’ display consists of more than ten strings of lights and multiple blow up and electronic plug-in decorations. Interestingly, while Lower Mainlanders are over three times as likely to have a ‘mega’ lighting display, they are also the most likely to have cost concerns about decorating.
While many British Columbians fall in the middle category when it comes to holiday decorating, there is still some indication that they are keeping costs in mind, and perhaps doing a little less on the décor front this year, especially when it comes to outdoor decorating. Almost 10 per cent plan to decorate less outdoors than they have in previous years, and of those, about one third said costs are holding them back.
The costs of purchasing and powering decorations, are two of the main reasons the minimalists are scaling back their décor and why non-decorators will not be participating this year.
Despite costs holding many back, British Columbians may not realize some of their technology choices and habits may be contributing to higher costs. For example, about 30 per cent are using old incandescent light strings or a mix of old incandescent and LED lighting for outdoor decorating – with the number rising to about 40 per cent for indoor decorating. Incandescent lighting uses significantly more power and is more expensive to run. Many are also using inflatables, and some are also planning on adding at least one blow up decoration to the mix this year, which can add to costs because they are typically run 24/7 and use a lot more power than a strand of LED bulbs. And then there are the 12 per cent who admit to keeping their lights up and running all year round – with most of those living in northern B.C. (22 per cent).
BC Hydro recommends the following to keep holiday displays merry, bright, and affordable:
- Switching to LEDs: Save about $40 over the holiday season by switching eight strands of incandescent lights to energy efficient LEDs. LED holiday lights also last ten times longer and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours.
- Plugging decorations into timers: Reduce electricity costs by only having lights on when needed.
- Considering the cost of inflatables: These decorations are simple to install—with limited set up and no ladders or tools required, which makes them an easy addition to a holiday display. The electricity used by these can vary from around 52 watts for a smaller 4-foot one, to around 85 watts for a 12-foot inflatable, and they are typically run 24 hours a day—adding up to $50 each to British Columbians’ electricity costs over the holidays.
- Using MyHydro: See how holiday decorating impacts electricity use by using the electricity tracking tools available on MyHydro, which can be accessed from a mobile device or at bchydro.com.
The colder, darker winter months are typically the time when hydro bills increase for many households. If you are having trouble paying your BC Hydro bill, please reach out via phone at 1-800-BC-Hydro to set up an equal payment plan or discuss other flexible payment options or available grants. For more information on smart holiday energy choices visit BC Hydro Holiday Countdown.
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468
1 Survey conducted online by Majid Khoury of 800 British Columbians (gen pop) Nov. 14-17, 2022, margin of error 3.56%.