Switching off Christmas lights saved Swiss city just 70 francs last year

Switching off Christmas lights saved Swiss city just 70 francs last year

In the winter of 2022, after measures were announced by the Swiss government designed to cope with the impending energy shortage, many communities like Zurich and Bern chose to either reduce or switch off their Christmas lights - with quite dramatic effects in Bern. The smaller city of Brugg in Aargau also followed suit in an attempt to reduce energy usage. The result? They shaved 70 francs off their energy bill.

Swiss cities ditch Christmas lights to save power

According to 20 Minuten, the local council (Gemeinde) in Brugg announced in November 2022 that they would significantly reduce the number of Christmas lights used in the city, and that festive lights on the old bridge over the River Aare and Eisi Hall would be removed. 

The decision came amid calls to reduce and save energy, as at the time there was a genuine concern that, as Europe started to wean itself off Russian oil and gas after the invasion of Ukraine, there would be significant supply issues in Switzerland.

The situation even saw the Swiss government announce that they would be adopting voluntary energy-saving measures and publishing mandatory and last-ditch energy-saving plans, to be used if the situation worsened. Part of the voluntary measures, along with a suggestion that people shower together to save power, was a call for all unnecessary lighting and heating to be reduced, such as reducing the number of festive lights in cities and at Christmas markets.

Brugg's lack of Christmas lights saved the city 70 Swiss francs

With the energy shortage now highly unlikely, many authorities have started to take stock of whether their measures had any effect. In a request, reported in the Aargauer Zeitung, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) in the city of Brugg asked the council how much power and money was saved by cutting the number of Christmas lights. The answer was a bit of a surprise.

In a statement, the council said that the measure had saved 352,8-kilowatt hours of electricity during the Christmas period. When energy prices for the local area are used - which stand at 20 rappen (centimes) per kilowatt hour - it was calculated that the local authorities saved a whopping 70,50 Swiss francs by not switching the lights on.

Despite the slightly embarrassing result, the local council told 20 Minuten that the measures were “appropriate and justifiable”, especially considering the very real threat of energy shortages at the time. Whether the locals will see things the same way, remains to be seen.

Image: / Michael Derrer Fuchs

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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