5 ways to reduce light pollution in cities
If you live in a city like most people, you probably can’t see the Milky Way at night. Maybe you’ve never even spotted it at all. The night sky in most cities is a pink glow with only the moon, bright stars, and passing airplanes visible.
Light pollution is the form of pollution that most people have forgotten. Light pollution occurs when extra light from large cities filters into the night sky. It causes problems such as adding to carbon emissions, interfering with animal migration, and blocking nighttime views. While brightened skies may not be as important as environmental pollution, light pollution still hurts wildlife, energy resources, and human health. Here are 5 ways light pollution can be reduced.
Light Pollution Solutions #1: Smart Energy Management System
You’re in bed but you can’t sleep, because the street lights outside is too bright. Imagine if you could send a text and have the light turned off a few moments later.
This technology may soon be possible, thanks to smart energy management systems. This lighting solution would allow you to control one or many streetlights remotely. It works for many types of LED street lights, solar street lights and even the all in one solar street lights.
The system gives you access to live, current information, so the right amount of light is given where and when needed. If it is not needed, the light can be turned off, dimmed, or placed on a schedule. This solution uses the lighting system already in place, turning it into the system of the future.
The detailed system reduces energy loss and allows the lighting network to run as smoothly as possible. Since lights are controlled wirelessly from a central system, they can be adjusted for any reason. Some examples are changes in weather, circumstances, or a person’s need.
“If there is a football match, the lights in the area can be told to come on when everyone is leaving and dimmed after they have gone. The technology allows you to adapt to circumstance.”
In the past, such systems were only made for individual houses and businesses and were expensive. They could not be used for street lamps until now, since costs have been lowered. The systems can be used with existing lamps, so they only need to be updated and not replaced.
Light Pollution Solutions #2: Start with ‘A Big Switch-Off’
The cheapest, most obvious, and most effective light pollution solution is to start turning things off.
There is a time and place for outdoor lighting—during after-dark activities, for instance. But many of us burn porch and spot lighting because it gives us a sense of security.
There’s little data to support the idea that outdoor lighting reduces crime. Turn on the LED or solar streetlights only when you need them, or use portable lighting. Turn them off when you don’t need them.
Light Pollution Solutions #3: Choose a Light with a Right Lens Angle—Low Glare Lighting Fixtures
Good street lighting should feature an LED light source with a right beam angle and have the top and sides enclosed. These channels direct light downward—where it is needed—and reduce the amount of wasted light. This ensures that the light is used to illuminate the ground, not the sky.
Light Pollution Solutions #4: Replace Conventional High Energy Bulbs with Efficient LED Lights or Solar Street lights
While efficient lighting won’t directly keep all those stray lumens from bouncing around, it will take the costs of your monthly bill down and reduce power company carbon emissions.
Just because LED lighting is a green solution, that doesn’t mean it does not need to be turned off. Another way to reduce light pollution is to install low-wattage solar walkway lights or all-in-one solar streetlights. Costs of buying and using them are very low.
Light Pollution Solutions #5: Use a Different Kind of Light
Switching to low-watt bulbs is a simple way of reducing light pollution. However, it would not work to switch every piece of outdoor lighting in a city.
Outdoor LED lighting, whilst energy-efficient, often emits a blue light, which creates more light pollution. Moving away from bluish-white lighting could be a bigger help. Warm white lighting (color temperature 3000K-4000K) is a better solution.
Now – Enjoy the Darkness!
You’ll be surprised at how much turning off a few bulbs around your home improves the nighttime view. Why not take this opportunity to re-learn the night sky? You don’t need a telescope to see the constellations, planets, comets, meteors, satellites, and spacecraft visible to the naked eye.
It’s not difficult to learn the night sky basics; a star chart is a good place to start. For easy pointers, try Sky and Telescope’s “This Week’s Sky at a Glance.” To spot objects such as the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, and satellites and discarded rocket boosters, create an account at Heavens Above. Be sure to customize it for your location. Turn your computer into a virtual planetarium with Stellarium, a free 3-D program that runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
A set of inexpensive binoculars will expand your star-spotting abilities. But all you really need is the desire to look up into night—and enjoy the dark sky.