British Columbia

House parties are out, but festive light displays expected to be bigger, brighter this year

BC Hydro says a recent survey shows the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to people create larger, elaborate holiday light decorations because more people are staying at home rather than going to view public displays.

BC Hydro says more people are planning to stay home and decorate for the holiday season

Perry and Paula Balascak in Maple Ridge lit up their house with thousands of Christmas lights in 2017 and decked their lawns with dozens of hand-made wooden structures. (Paula Balascak)

British Columbians will be creating larger, elaborate holiday light decorations, according to a recent BC Hydro survey, as people stay home rather than take in displays in public gardens and parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC Hydro spokesperson Susie Rieder said about 60 per cent of British Columbians plant to put up outdoor lights this year and more people are expected to put up large inflatables or structured LED decor such as large reindeer.

"About 20 per cent are planning to add more indoor and outdoor decorations and there are expected to be more of those really big Clark Griswold-style displays than ever before this year."

Rieder pointed out more lights equals more energy and higher bills.

"So it's really important those lights are energy efficient so using LEDs is something that we highly recommend. They are 90 per cent more efficient than older incandescent bulbs."

BC Hydro says people can save around $40 during the holiday season by switching from eight strands of incandescent lights to LEDs which can also last up to 10 times longer.

BC Hydro says LED lights, pictured, are 90 per cent more efficient than older incandescent bulbs. (David Horemans/CBC)

Rieder said more people are planning to have their lights on longer with more than 40 per cent saying they will have their lights on for more than eight hours a day. 

She suggests putting displays on a timer to manage electricity use and avoid extra costs.

The survey also found that 41 per cent of people are less inclined to visit large public displays.

B.C.'s provincial health officer has suspended several events involving public light displays — including the Stanley Park Christmas Train and VanDusen Botanical Garden's Festival of Lights in Vancouver — at least until Dec. 7. 

People living B.C.'s Southern Interior are the most dedicated decorators with almost 70 per cent indicating they plan on putting up outdoor lights.

BC Hydro data indicates large holiday displays account for about three per cent of provincial electricity use, however that percentage is expected to rise this year.

The survey of 800 people was conducted by Ipsos from Nov. 16 to Nov. 19. The margin of error for this general provincial population survey is plus or minus 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.


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