Blue lights more than festive 

New lights 90 per cent more energy efficient

B.C. Hydro gave the Resort Municipality of Whistler an early gift for the holidays this year – 7,000 energy efficient Christmas bulbs on 100 strings.

Because of their blue colour and the unique features of the bulb covers, the lights have been attracting a lot of attention wherever they are placed.

Some merchants in Vancouver who hung the lights in their window, after receiving them as part of B.C. Hydro’s Power Smart program, are getting more than a dozen inquiries a day from customers.

In Whistler, you can find the lights on the Village Stroll. Surrounded by white lights, the blue lights stick out like 7,000 sore thumbs.

According to Mikael Rahmberg of Whistler Hardware, which is located near the lights, at least 20 customers have been in the stores asking about the lights.

"We could be selling, and my boss is looking into getting some. It comes up every day since they put those lights up," he said.

The municipality wishes they were given more of the lights, but B.C. Hydro had to ration them carefully – they bought the last 20,000 strings that were produced last year.

"Everyone seems to like them, but as far as the power goes, they’re the way to go," explains Curtis Smith, the lead hand for the Village Maintenance Department. "An entire string of 70 lights only uses four watts of power, while on our regular strings of lights, just one of those bulbs uses five watts. It’s amazing, but an entire string of these new lights uses less power than just one bulb on another string."

The energy efficient lights, which were made in China and sold to B.C. Hydro by a U.S. Company, use LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights rather than conventional bulbs.

They are 90 per cent more energy efficient and have a life expectancy of over 200,000 hours. They are made of a hard epoxy, and although the bulb covers can be stolen or damaged, the lights themselves are far more durable than conventional lights.

The are also cooler to operate, and are generally less than a degree Celsius warmer than ambient temperatures.

Christmas lights are just one of the latest applications of LED technology. Flashlights, exit signs and traffic signals, like the ones at Highway 99 and the entrance to Bayshores, use LED technology and have become more popular over the last few years.

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