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Brussels communes reach agreement on energy savings for winter light displays

20:35 29/09/2022

Brussels' 19 municipalities have reached a common agreement on various measures to save energy this winter, hoping to preserve their traditional winter light displays as much as possible.

Energy prices have skyrocketed in Europe, but many cities count on their festive lighting displays for tourism in the winter holiday season and were reluctant to scale back.

In addition to potential economic losses for the tourism and hospitality sectors, many towns and mayors felt that cancelling the lighting displays after two years of pandemic-modified holidays would be bad for people's morale.

Brussels energy supplier Sibelga has reached an agreement with the municipalities concerning the public lighting during the winter period.

Three measures will be put into place, not all of which concern the festive light displays.

One of them involves switching off street lights half an hour before sunrise from 1 October to 31 March. Sibelga said this would save 1,000 megawatt hours or €235,000.

During the same period, street lights running on LED bulbs will be dimmed by 20% after 22.00, which Sibelga estimates will save 480 megawatt hours or €112,000.

While this is not expected to pose any significant safety risks, municipalities can individually decide to make an exception at dangerous intersections.

As for the holiday light displays, these will be switched on for less time.

While in the past they have been displayed from 1 December to 15 January and were turned on from 16.30 to 0.30, they will now be up from 8 December to 8 January, and will switch off at midnight.

On 24 December and 31 December, the Christmas lights will remain on all night.

Exceptions are made for specific holiday events such as the Winter Wonders festivities in central Brussels.

Agreements have yet to be made concerning the lighting of official municipal buildings, such as town halls, or public parks that remain closed after dark but are generally lit for safety.

Written by Helen Lyons