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The worldwide pandemic is changing the way people are celebrating the holidays in 2020, but no matter where they celebrate or how many people are sitting around their tables, they still use energy and water.

We normally look at topics related directly to metering, utility communications networks, and smart infrastructure solutions.

But today, we thought we’d look at 3 ways that the holiday season affects energy and water use.

For more insight on utility trends, follow our blog


1: Twinkling holiday lights cost big time

Christmas lighting display displays use more electricity than some countries. An article in Phys.org , first published in 2015, set the amount of energy consumed by Christmas lighting displays at 6.63 billion kilowatt-hours each year, more than the yearly energy consumptions in many of developing countries including, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.

Another article published by the electricity marketplace ElectricChoice.com breaks the costs down even further:

  • Christmas tree – 450 watts, about the same as a 55-inch flat-screen television
  • Outdoor string lights – 10,000 watts, about the same as heating a 1,500 square-foot home with an electric furnace
  • Outdoor tree lights – 14,000 watts. Or about the same as running every electric appliance in your home at once

You get the picture.

In fact, the article pegged total energy use for consumers who go all out at Christmas at over $1,600. If you’d like to get an idea of what your holiday lighting display might be costing you, use this calculator from We Energies to find out.


2: Holiday meals are energy hogs

Most people think of turkey as a Thanksgiving staple, but in fact, turkey is a popular meal choice for Christmas, not only in the U.S. but also in other parts of the world. Statistics show that although about 50% of Americans eat turkey on Christmas, almost 90% of people in Great Britain eat turkey on Christmas.

But do you know how much that holiday turkey dinner will cost you to make?

According to statistics presented by Marine Corps Community Services, the electricity used to make a traditional turkey dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie could power an LED light bulb for 1400 hours – enough to provide light for 8 hours a day for 6 months.

According to the University of Illinois, 68 million turkeys are consumed in the United States every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas. By extrapolation, assuming cooking each turkey uses 8 kWh of electricity, that means we collectively use about 550 million kWh of energy to cook our holiday birds.


3: Wasted turkey means wasted water

Although COVID-19 may be putting a damper on large holiday gatherings, we will still use more water around the holidays, whether that means defrosting a turkey under cold running water, boiling 5 pounds of potatoes, or running the dishwasher more. But did you know that wasting parts of your holiday dinner also means wasting water?

The USDA reports that consumers waste about 35% of turkey after purchase compared to 15% of chicken consumed. Why the difference? The USDA points the finger at holiday dining, pointing out that consumers tend to throw out more uneaten food during the holidays than at other times of the year.

So, what does this mean for water consumption? According to the  NRDC (National Resources Defense Council), Americans throw out the equivalent of 105 billion gallons of water when they toss more than a third of useable turkey meat in the trash. By comparison, New York City’s almost 9 million residents consume over 1 billion gallons of water per day, according to an essay in the Physics Factbook.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this compilation of fun holiday facts. Subscribe to our blog to discover diverse trends in utility networks, resilient advanced metering infrastructure solutions, and how data analytics impact your electric, gas, or water utility.

Enjoy your holidays!

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