Energy Waste

Streetlights Glare Richardson

Light pollution wastes energy and money

  • Lighting that emits too much light or shines when and where it is not needed is wasteful.
  • Wasting energy has huge economic and environmental consequences
  • Due to light pollution – wasted energy – millions of tons of carbon are pumped into our atmosphere every year. Light pollution increases greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to climate change, and renders us all the more energy dependent. 
 Credit: Jim Richardson

 Environmental responsibility requires energy efficiency and conservation

  • Installing quality outdoor lighting could cut energy use by 60–70 percent, save billions of dollars, and cut carbon emissions.
  • Outdoor lighting should be fully shielded and direct light down where it is needed, not into the sky.
  • Fully shielded fixtures can provide the same level of illumination on the ground as unshielded ones, but with less energy and cost.
  • And it’s not just outdoor lighting wasting energy, unnecessary indoor lighting – particularly those of empty office buildings at night – should be turned off.
Oil Refinery Sunset  Martin Nikolaj Bech cr


 Credit: Martin Nikolaj Bech

New lighting technologies can help conserve energy  

  • LEDs and Compact Fluorescents (CFL) can help reduce energy use and protect the environment; only warm-white bulbs should be used.
  • Dimmers, motion sensors and timers can help to reduce average illumination levels and save even more energy.
  • When lights aren’t needed, turn them off.

Quality lighting design reduces energy use and therefore energy dependence. It also reduces carbon emissions, saves money and allows us to enjoy the night sky. Watch a clip of the documentary The City Dark to learn how lighting design can reduce light pollution and also conserve energy.



Although Paris is known as the City of Lights, things are a little darker in France since the government decided to limit the use of streetlights. Watch the video.


Current News Items on Light Pollution and Energy

LEDs: Light Pollution Solution or Night Sky Nemesis? (Universe Today)
Read this great primer on LED lighting technology. Everything you needed to know but where afraid to ask.

Cutting light pollution in big cities (Planet Earth podcast)
Listen to this edition of the Planet Earth Podcast in which Roland Leigh and Joshua Vande Hey of the University of Leicester describe the work they're doing with Leicester City Council to cut light pollution and help the Council conserve electricity.

Going Green with Darker Skies (University of Connecticut)
The University of Connecticut recently retrofitted its sports complex and will save $11,000 in energy costs, and 4,000 lbs. of CO2 per year. Read more.

New LED streetlights will save city $15,000 annually (Milan Daily Record) Read on.

Lights out: street lamps to be switched off in Purbeck to save council more cash (Daily Echo)
THE lights are going off across Purbeck, England over the next few weeks as Dorset County Council extends its drive to cut costs. Read more.

All street lamps to be replaced in energy-saving project (The Times of Malta)
A project to replace all streetlights in Malta and Gozo with energy saving lamps will be a public-private partnership, with the two sides splitting the savings, Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi said on PBS. Read more.

Hertfordshire (UK) County Council part night lighting scheme a bright idea (Watford Observer)
A review into the controversial part night lighting scheme, where areas of Hertfordshire are plunged into darkness over night, concluded that it had been a success. Read more.