Festively lighting Winnipeg with LEDs makes cents

Winnipeg has always embraced Christmas, decking the downtown in festive lights, but what is the cost of all that shimmer and shine?

City uses energy-efficient rope lighting for its 600-plus holiday fixtures, saves $25K compared to old bulbs

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      Winnipeg has always embraced Christmas, decking the downtown in festive lights. But what is the cost of all that shimmer and shine?

      A lot less than it used to be.

      The City of Winnipeg uses LED rope lighting for all of its 600-plus holiday fixtures, which illuminate 7.6 kilometres of Portage Avenue and Main Street.

      The light-emitting diodes draw far less energy than the old bulbs — 188,818 lamps, to be exact — that used to be strung across Portage and were used in wreaths and other decorations along the avenue.

      The North Wind blows on the median of Main Street between city hall and the Centennial Concert Hall. (Travis Golby/CBC)

      The power consumption in 2002, the last year before the changeover, was 305,000 kilowatt hours. That's a total for the two months the lights were operational.

      Since the conversion to the LED rope lighting, the power consumption is 29 kw over those two months, according to the city. The lights were switched on this year on Nov. 17 and will be up until Jan. 13.

      "At today's current rate of $0.08 [per kilowatt hour], the savings using the rope LED lighting versus the bulbs is roughly $25,000," a city spokesperson told CBC.

      That means the city has saved about $375,000 in the past 15 years.

      The city's trove of LED Christmas trimmings lining the lampposts includes:

      • 340 snowflakes.
      • 40 starbursts.
      • 45 angels.
      • 12 gift piles.
      • Six elves.
      • 130 stars.
      • 32 curlicues.

      An old time-lapse view of Portage Avenue showing Eaton's decorated for Christmas. If taken today, this photo would show Bell MTS Place where Eaton's stands. (University of Manitoba Winnipeg Building Index)

      As well, there are five large fixtures on the medians — three waves of poinsettias, Santa and reindeer, and the North Wind.

      The City Hall Christmas tree isn't included in that list because it still uses bulbs — 11,000 of them, though they are LED bulbs.

      It costs approximately $14.10 per month to keep it lit.

      About the Author

      Darren Bernhardt


      Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, first at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories and features. Story idea? Email:


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