A ‘green’ Christmas is translating into big bucks for some local businesses

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NEW YORK — The record-busting temperatures of Christmas Eve may have been a downer for holiday-makers looking for traditional Christmastime weather, but this week's very green Christmas has resulted in some green of another sort for many in the tri-state region.

Among them, sidewalk cafes. On the Upper West Side, the sidewalk seating at Elizabeth's Restaurant was already half full when brunch began, and it kept filling up all day. The reason was obvious.

"I was like, do I even need to bring a coat?" R.T. Taylor asked. "It's great. Short sleeves, outside."

The maitre d' at Elizabeth's said that the restaurant's outdoor space is, ordinarily, empty at this time of year, of course, but on Christmas Eve, the eatery was getting extra receipts from its patrons who chose to eat al fresco.

One might assume that an organic farmer like Erik Warga of Two Guys From Woodbridge Farm in Hamden, Connecticut, would be used to being outside year-round. Not so. His hydroponic farm grows all of its produce indoors, in greenhouses. So he's grateful for the warm weather for a different reason.

"It does lower utility costs," Warga said, "because we don't have to heat the greenhouse as much."

Agricultural businesses like his throughout the region have been spared large utility bills, for similar reasons.

Also, most of the rest of tri-state residents have also saved big this season. Con Edison reported natural gas heating costs to be down 4 percent from a year ago even before this warm weather kicked in. The utility company told PIX11 News that the weather's reduced need for home heating means bills are much lower for residents.

Over at Bryant Park, in midtown, the ice rink has shallow pools all over it from where the facility's cooling apparatus can't keep up with the air temperature that's more than twice the melting point.

Despite that, business has been brisk at the ice rink all season. The same cannot be said for the cold weather item vendors in the Winter Village shopping area that surrounds the rink. They had been counting on a winter like last winter.

So far, it hasn't materialized.