U.S. Holiday Lights Burn More Energy Than Some Entire Nations Do All Year

Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, and Cambodia wish they had the appliances to suck up this much power.


Many people who see Christmas lights love them a lot. But Todd Moss, an expert in poverty, does not.

Moss is a fellow at the Center for Global Development, not a Grinch who hates luminous lights for the hell of it. He notes with a dark glint in his eye that Americans burn 6.63 billion kilowatt-hours shining holiday lights. That’s more than a year of El Salvador nights!

Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, and Cambodia too. In one month, their whole year’s consumption we outdo.

Moss’s chart has the numbers to explain it all, so you know that our hearts aren’t two sizes too small:

Look at how much we waste.


What a festive red bar! Where’s your holiday spirit, anyway, Addis Ababa?

If we decide to reign this form of festivity in, we can lower consumption with a few simple moves. Buy LED lights; ditch inflatable Who’s; cool it on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra parties.

Moss just wants us to remember our international friends. Quoting this NPR interview our rhyme scheme comes to an end:

“You don’t have lights and a refrigerator, or an air conditioner, but it also means you don’t have steady, reliable, affordable electricity to power factories, to help grow jobs.
“A country can’t become wealthy or even middle class without consuming a lot more energy. All poor countries need a lot more energy. How do we provide that in a way that’s smart for the planet? If we force sub-Saharan Africa to use renewables only we are forcing them to remain poor.”