‘Street lights cut crime’ think again!
Local Authorities in the UK face a perfect storm of rising energy costs and demand, including policing and social care for the elderly. Could the humble street light hold the answer?
Street lighting burns an estimated £300m per year in electricity according to this report from the UK Lighting and Technology Board. Switching to LED’s would cost around £755M but save £6.8Bn in electricity and 5M tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 25 years. Saving costs and carbon by investing in street lighting
But don’t street lights cut crime?
This report from Cambridgeshire police found no evidence that street lightings helps – Evidence regarding the impact of the street lighting on crime and antisocial behaviour
The UCL team suggests that street lighting may even help rather than hinder crime in this report.
Growing evidence of the health impact of light pollution suggests that a more strategic approach to light after dark can cut the healthcare bill too –
– Increased risk of pre-term birth – Light Pollution, Sleep Deprivation, and Infant Health at Birth
– Reduced quality of sleep for teens – Association of Outdoor Artificial Light at Night With Mental Disorders and Sleep Patterns Among US Adolescents
– Increased use of sleep medication for adults – Outdoor Artificial Nighttime Light and Use of Hypnotic Medications in Older Adults: A Population-Based Cohort Study
– Link with Parkinson’s disease – Bright light exposure reduces TH-positive dopamine neurons: Implications of light pollution in Parkinson’s disease epidemiology
Steve Fotios points out that we don’t know the optimum level of brightness to balance safety with energy use and health – Using street lighting to support pedestrian safety at night
This Frontiers paper points out that colour temperature is rarely considered but has a vital role to play (2,700 – 3,200k came top here) – Pedestrians’ psychological preferences for urban street lighting with different color temperatures
A lack of evidence-based strategic investment in the next generation of street lights cost each of us dearly in council tax bills, healthcare and insurance costs from extreme climate events. The humble street lamp, hiding in plain sight, can be win-win-win.
Not So Bright – the cost of leaving the light on unnecessarily
This article from Utility was written before the eye-watering rise in energy prices but still makes a sobering read – 6.5 million Brits admit to leaving the lights on when not in the room – a cost of over £800 per per household per year. Leaving The Lights On | A Study From Utility Design
The solution? add a sensor or timer to the circuit or choose lights with built-in controls when you buy new ones. This article is a bit techy but gives a good overview – Can You Put Outdoor Lights on a Timer? Given that you need an electrician to add a timer or sensor to a ‘hard-wired’ light (in the ceiling for example), the cost of installing a sensor may not add up Do Motion Sensor Light Switches Save Energy? As only around 14% of lightbulbs in the UK currently use LED technology, the first port of call should be switching for an energy-efficient version. That could be an opportunity to see whether that light really is in the right place to start with. –
Twinkle Twinkle… not so bright?
Holiday lights are part of that festive feeling for most of us. And according to this great piece from Helen Thompson, our enthusiasm is clearly visible from space – urban areas are up to 50% brighter around Christmas and Ramadan.
For many of us, all that twinkling and flashing is exhausting and can trigger nausea and headaches. I certainly had that experience myself and still have to beware. This piece from Theraspecs makes great points and sensible suggestions for those sensitive to light, especially when stressed.
1/ choose static rather than flashing lights
2/ look at the overall balance of light in a space to avoid extremes
3/ plan your outings to get the buzz without the burn-out 4/ it may look odd but sunglasses just might help ( I’m not convinced by the blue-blocking glasses argument – but that’s for another post!) NASA Can See Your Holiday Lights From Space, All Is Bright: How LED Christmas Lights Can Hurt Light-Sensitive Eyes
A book for the Christmas list
I bought Russell Foster’s new book (Life Time: the new science of the body clock) as a gift but couldn’t help reading it myself . Will have to get another copy 😉