After the health of the environment and the health and safety of humans, light pollution also hits us hard in our pockets. Unused lights left on overnight, such as those in office buildings, waste energy, and for no reason. This type of illumination contributes to the general sky glow of the city as well as wasting energy. Being dark-sky friendly does not mean ‘no light,’ it means using the light that you need for a particular task in the most efficient manner possible.
An estimated 30% of street lighting is wasted light. “Wasted light” is defined as light that shines up into the sky where it does no good – or pretty much any light that doesn’t shine directly on the ground. Based on this number, it is estimated that - in the United States alone - 22,000 gigawatt-hours a year are wasted. At a conservative average of $0.10 per kilowatt-hour, the cost of that wasted energy is $2.2 billion a year – enough to annually fund a new mission to Mars. In other terms, 3.6 tons of coal or 12.9 million barrels of oil are wasted every year to produce this lost light.
The easy solutions to these problems are:
- Shield and lower the wattage of all outdoor lighting: Homeowners, businesses, and cities.
- Use only the light you need to get the job done.
- Use timers, dimmers, and sensors to darken unoccupied areas. Shut off the lights when you can.
- Look for IDA-approved ‘Fixture Seal of Approval’ fixtures at your local stores (Lowe’s has recently started carrying a wide variety of affordable, IDA-approved, dark-sky friendly lighting)
The fight to end light pollution begins at your front door.