BC Hydro is anticipating some increased electricity bills throughout the province this holiday season as Christmas displays get bigger and brighter amid COVID-19.
A recent report published by the power company, BC Hydro says that as a result of people spending more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, about 20 per cent plan to do more decorating indoors and outdoors this year “to create some holiday cheer.”
BC Hydro outlines in the report that elaborate holiday displays typically account for approximately three per cent of the provincial electricity load during the holiday season. This year, however, the power provider is anticipating that number to grow.
The report suggests 60 per cent of British Columbians are planning on putting up outdoor lights, with two groups – labelled by BC Hydro – seemingly hoping to “step it up this year.”
BC Hydro says that nearly 22 per cent of British Columbians plan on putting up eight strands of Christmas lights on average, which is up almost 10 per cent since 2018. This group is being labelled by BC Hydro as ‘the holiday enthusiasts.’
A second group – “the holiday fanatics’ – is also expected to play a factor in increased power bills this season.
“Nearly 10 per cent plan to put up more than 10 strands of lights on average for a ‘Clark Griswold-style’ mega display – this is up more than three per cent since 2018,” reads a statement from BC Hydro.
The province’s power provider says that as a result of the rise in mega displays, inflatable decorations like blow-up Santas and snowmen are increasing in popularity.
BC Hydro says about 15 per cent of outdoor decorators plan to put up three or more inflatables, and five per cent plan to put up six to 15.
On Vancouver Island, residents have already shown an eagerness to get into the Christmas spirit and add a little sparkle in their lives.
The holiday aisles at Canadian Tire in Hillside Mall have been like a beacon, attracting eager shoppers since right after Remembrance Day.
“We’re seeing dramatic increases in traffic,” said owner Justin Young. “It’s been a tough year for everybody. I mean we’re all in this together and I think this is giving customers and the general public a means of feeling good about their space.”
Although brighter displays will bring some much-needed cheer to 2020, BC Hydro is saying that it could result in some steep electricity bills as well.
“About 25 per cent of British Columbians indicated they still use some incandescent lights to decorate, which are up to 90 per cent less energy efficient than LEDs. Big inflatable decorations can also result in higher than expected bills because they are often run 24/7 and use a lot more power than a strand of LED bulbs,” a statement in the report summary reads.
In an effort to help British Columbians, BC Hydro has outlined some recommendations for saving power.
BC Hydro suggests switching light bulbs, which the company says will save residents about $40 over the holiday season by switching eight strands of incandescent lights to energy-efficient LEDs – bulbs which BC Hydro says also last 10 times longer.
BC Hydro recommends British Columbians plug their lights into timers in order to reduce electricity costs by only having lights on when needed.
Lastly, BC Hydro points to using MyHydro on the company’s website, which can show residents how holiday decorating impacts their bills.