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How LED Lights are Saving the World

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If you’ve been keeping up, LED lights have become something of a worldwide phenomenon in the last twenty or so years. Of course, we think that they’re a revolution for making sure your breathtaking holiday home displays are simple and, most importantly, safe to install, but consider the other uses too. For instance, EDM concerts would simply be a couple of guys playing with their iPods if it weren’t for LED lights. Apart from clubs and concert halls around the world, there are a myriad of other uses for your LED lights that you might be astounded to hear about. Therefore, its no surprise that LED light sales overall are expected to grow an estimated 13% in this year alone!

These numbers only reinforce the rising idea that LED technology is going to rapidly replace their halogen, fluorescent and incandescent counterparts. While LEDs admittedly remain a bit more expensive than their conventional equivalents, consumers, businesses and even whole cities are slowly seeing the savings that switching over to LED technology provides. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at a few of the ways that LED lights are saving the world (and some money too)!

Fast Facts

Here’s a quick rundown of facts and figures so you can get an idea of what we’re looking at in terms of public lighting.

  • Public lighting services account for a staggering 19% of the world’s total energy consumption
  • Energy costs for public lighting for a given municipality is often upwards of 40%
  • LED lights are generally 40% to 60% more efficient than the current lighting in most major cities (usually CFL, or incandescent)
  • LEDs last longer than traditional streetlights (15 – 20 years vs. 5 years)
  • Unfortunately, only 10% of streetlights worldwide use LED technology

Yes, that 10% can seem disheartening (even when considering that by 2020, 60% of the world’s lighting is projected to be LED) but there are plenty of cities that have begun to make the switch and are anticipating big returns for doing so!

3. Boston

In the bean town, they manage around 67,000 electric streetlights as well as 2,800 gaslights. As you can imagine, these lights are a significant drain on city funds especially considering what it takes to replace the lights when they go out, which happens just about every 5 years.

That’s why, in 2010, they decided to outfit their streetlights with LED to drop energy use and carbon emissions by a whopping 60%!

2. Los Angeles

In 2013, the city of Los Angeles completed the world’s largest LED streetlight overhaul. Incredibly, the city will see in the neighborhood of $7 million in electricity savings and $2.5 million in saved maintenance costs. They’re also testing a pilot program for GE’s LightGrid Outdoor Wireless Controller, which will offer the city more precise lighting schedules to aid citizens, save millions of dollars while lowering their carbon footprint and overall energy usage!

1. New York City

Of course New York City ended up on this list, as they seem to be on the forefront of every frontier. They have embarked on a journey to retrofit every streetlight in the city with energy-efficient LED lights! This is mindboggling when you consider that the NYC municipal light system is the largest in the country with 262,000 lights on city streets, bridges and underpasses, 12,000 in parks and 26,000 on highways! The city expects to save $6 million in energy and $8 million in maintenance costs.

Potential Drawbacks

As with any new technology there are going to be some low-level drawbacks and growing pains. Recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) has taken a stance and issued guidelines for cities that have retrofitted their streetlights with LEDs.

Here’s the problem as the AMA sees it, these new “white” LED lights happened to be extremely “concentrated” lights and have an exceedingly high blue content. To put it simply, over the course of human history, we’ve grown more accustomed to candlelight, which burns in high reds and yellows. When there’s too much blue in our lights, it can cause glare, damage your retina and disrupt circadian rhythms leading to less restful sleep.

The AMA fully supports the use of LED lights as it is helpful for the environment but suggests that cities control the “blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare.”

Conclusion

As with anything, we’re going to have to learn how to properly use our new technology. In the meantime, we fully support these cities using energy efficient and cost-saving LEDs. The way we see it, if more cities, businesses and consumers can get on board with this type of retrofitting, then we can make our Earth that much healthier and help to preserve it for generations to come. 

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