Christmas Lights Are Consuming Too Much Energy: Columnist Says It’s Time To Unplug

Christmas lights are an American tradition as popular as Santa Claus and pumpkin pie.

But for one columnist, the amount of energy they consume each year is downright obscene, and it’s time for them to be unplugged.

In a recent piece for Huffington Post, Michael McLaughlin takes issue with the fact that U.S. Christmas lights burn more energy than some nations do in a whole year.

“El Salvador, Cambodia and Tanzania are some of the countries that use less power than the seasonal lights Americans string up,” McLaughlin writes, citing a study from the Center for Global Development.

To back his claim, McLaughlin turns to an NPR interview with researcher Todd Moss.

Moss called it a “useful comparison” due to the fact that many developing countries face pressure to use more renewable sources of energy.

The HuffPo column continues.

“Though switching to cleaner sources of power is important, Moss said, the graph he developed with Priscilla Agyapong shows poorer countries like Nepal and Ethiopia are just a drop in the bucket compared to the U.S.

“‘It’s pretty rich for me to sit in Washington, D.C., and tell Ghana they can’t build one natural gas power plant,’ Moss told NPR.

“Americans’ holiday decorations use 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough to run 14 million refrigerators, according to the researchers. But that only accounts for 0.2 percent of total electrical usage.”

Moss and his partner utilized data from the U.S. Department of Energy and the World Bank for their findings.

While the numbers are sobering, many have wondered what obligation the U.S. has to cut its use of Christmas lights.

One commenter on McLaughlin’s piece thought it was “nonsense” to feel guilty about such a thing, while others held that there are more than enough resources “for everyone to have a decent way of life.”

Still, people like Lily Perrine felt the holiday revelers needed to check their attitudes at the door.

“Millions of people homeless, displaced, living in war torn regions, sleeping in tents, hungry, not to mention all that YAY PARIS climate talks and here we are, blowing energy on Christmas lights like nothing. I mean where do you think all the energy comes from? The grid. And where does the grid gets its juice and power? Carbon based fuels, also known as greenhouse gases.”

Inevitably, the chatter also hit on religious differences with some on the anti-Christian side feeling it was hypocritical of people celebrating a Christian holiday to be “wasteful” when so many had to do without.

Others on the pro-Christian side blamed many of the nations in Moss’ study for whatever restrictions they had to endure.

“I have NO guilt,” wrote Thomas J. Rycombel. “We do in America what we have done and have enjoyed for centuries. Those evil non-Christian countries who object should be ignored! This is America and we do OUR thing, not their evil ones. Keep those holiday lights on and screw those who put us down. Enough is enough!”


Where do you fall on this debate, readers?

Christmas Lights Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Is there something wrong in the amount of energy consumption that Americans spend each year on Christmas lights?

Do you really believe that it hurts the planet as much as some believe that it does?

And does the overabundance of Christmas lights on display each year actually go against the spirt of the season?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Image via ShutterStock]