Call me what you will — Scrooge, wet blanket, hater, the bah humbuggy blogger who stole Christmas — but holiday scenes like the ones pictured above and below tend to make me think of global warming rather than good tidings; carbon footprints rather than Christmas cheer. Sure, there's an undeniable "wow" factor to a genuine, over-the-top holiday yard display, but for me that "wow" is generally short-lived and overruled by thoughts along the lines of "good lord, I wonder what their electric bill is like?"
 
Initially, I was going to make this post an extensive photo gallery of “egregiously electricity-wasting holiday light displays” but I thought I’d open it up to you to see what you think about the time-honored holiday tradition of outrageously lit-up houses.

There’s no doubt that homeowners who really go to town when festooning their homes with holiday lights don’t have an environmentally malignant design in mind — it’s all about spreading holiday cheer, snarling traffic, and perhaps a bit of neighborly competitiveness — but when you realize that the electricity consumed by these exterior illumination displays could power a small village for an entire month, a question begs to be asked: “couldn't this be toned down a bit?”

In a recent article published in The Guardian, environmental columnist Lucy Siegle points out that “extravagant light displays” (think of something Griswaldian, not just a couple of strands of twinkling lights wrapped around a front hedge) are responsible for an extra 400 kg (over 880 pounds) of CO2 emissions and add in the ballpark of £75 to £100 (around $120 to $160) to a household electricity bill. Homes with more modest light displays can expect to see something more like a $15 spike in electricity costs. 

Yikes. So what do you think? Should merry but extravagant-to-the-point-of-eyesore Christmas light displays be restricted or even totally banned by municipalities? Or are they a sacred tradition that should not be tampered with? 

Have you toned down your own home holiday light displays in recent years and switched over to more expensive but energy-efficient (they use 90 percent less energy than incandescent Christmas lights do) and long-lasting (about 50,000 hours) LED Christmas lights? Or have you totally gone the way of non-illuminated Christmas decorations?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. For more on the topic, check out this illuminating post over at Get Energy Smart Now!
 
Photos: aaronjwebb (top), ruthidee (middle), *julia (bottom)
 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) reports on design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.