From Santa's cave to the neon-lit streetscapes of Australian suburbia, the dazzle of Christmas lights heralds the arrival of the festive season better than any harking angel. But what powers these festive illuminations? If the answer is electricity then be aware that 80 per cent of electricity consumed in Australia is generated from large, centralised carbon - intensive, coal-based power stations emitting over one third of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.
Researchers at the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship are developing ways to make these power stations cleaner as well as developing renewable power and other low-emission, alternate technologies to generate energy closer to where it will be used, and control the energy we use more efficiently.
Dr Glenn Platt, group leader for Demand Side Energy research from CSIRO Energy Technology, offers a couple of tips which can let you enjoy your Christmas lights and minimise the impact on the environment.
'Using less electricity is a really effective way to reduce emissions,' Dr Platt says.
'Energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, and putting your Christmas lights on a timer are two very easy ways to minimise the amount of electricity you use to power your lights.
'Not only does it help you reduce emissions it also saves you money in running costs.
'For a zero-emission Christmas light show, you may consider using solar powered lights or sourcing your electricity from verified green power suppliers,' Dr Platt says.
The CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship is working towards delivering science solutions that halve Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.