Most offices are sat in the dark. Many assembly lines are at a standstill. And streets and railway stations are all but empty. Most people, at least in Christian countries, don’t have to work on Christmas Day and are able to spend the holidays at home with their loved ones.
This means that significantly less energy is consumed overall on public holidays, with electricity consumption clocking in at easily 30 percent below that of a normal working day.
But the flip side of people preferring to stay at home is that domestic energy demand increases enormously. During the cold winter months, houses and apartments are heated around the clock, Christmas dinners are roasted for hours on end and Christmas fairy lights give everything a festive glow. All things considered, we need a fair amount of energy to guarantee bit of Christmas cheer. In our (at times tongue in cheek) picture gallery, we have highlighted the biggest energy-guzzling culprits.
Billions of lights glow and glimmer every year at Christmas. According to the LichtBlick Christmas survey, in Germany alone, 17 billion lights will be switched on this year – around one billion more than last year. According to calculations, Christmas lighting will consume around 510 million kilowatt hours of electricity. This could supply around 170,000 households with electricity for a whole year and is associated with a whopping extra 150 million euros added to the national electricity bill (© Vladislav Havrilov, shutterstock.com).
The US, on the other hand, needs even more power thanks to their tradition of decorating their houses as extravagantly as possible, meaning buildings are suddenly adorned with Santas – reindeers, sleighs and all – and many other festive figures glowing in all colours of the rainbow. Space agency NASA says that the additional little light bulbs increase the light intensity in the suburbs by up to 50 percent compared to the rest of the year, meaning the Christmas glow can even be picked up from outer space (© Doug Meek, shutterstock.com).
Even though Christmastime means additional energy is needed, things are not as bad as they may seem, given that more and more people are turning to energy-saving LED light decorations. According to the LichtBlick Christmas survey, more than three-quarters of the surveyed households are already using them. Although LED fairy lights use more light bulbs, they consume up to 90 percent less electricity than conventional fairy lights (© Fotana, shutterstock.com).
LEDs provide festive lighting in city centres all over the world, here for example at the Christmas market in Essen, Germany (© en:former).
Even if Christmas lighting is becoming ever more efficient thanks to LEDs, households consume significantly more energy during the Christmas season than at other times of the year. As such, the average household in the UK spends up to 50 pounds (almost 60 euros) more on electricity and gas in December, for example. People spend more time indoors, meaning they have to heat more, whilst their ovens chug away at max capacity (© Inara Prusakova, shutterstock.com).
It takes about five hours to cook a turkey, the traditional British Christmas dinner. According to calculations roasting each bird is associated with electricity costs of GBP 1.50. With around ten million fowls sold every year at Christmas, another 15 million pounds (17.7 million euros) is added to the festive electricity bill – and that’s just for Christmas dinner (© Monkey Business Images, shutterstock.com).
If calculations are to be believed then Father Christmas would need an extraordinary amount of energy - beyond the realms of what is physically possible – for his night-time round. To bring gifts to the 500 million children living in Christian countries alone, he would have to deliver 1,800 gifts per second and would have to race around the globe 9,700 times the speed of sound - the human record is 7 times the speed of sound (© Ivars Andrups, shutterstock.com).
To transport the 500,000 tonnes of gifts (assuming each gift weighs only one kilo), he would need a sledge with around 300,000 SRP (super reindeer power). The 300,000 reindeer would each have to be able to pull ten times the amount of a normal reindeer, which is able to carry a weight of up to 150 kilogrammes (© SN040288, shutterstock.com).
Nevertheless, despite all these physical hurdles, Santa somehow manages to deliver his presents every year (© K2 PhotoStudio, shutterstock.com).
Photo credit: Yuganov Konstantin, shutterstock.com.