Growing concern for the environmental stability of our planet has motivated many conscientious consumers to look for ways to save energy at home. Typical advice includes turning off your electronics when you aren’t using them and taking out the recycling. But we can do a lot more to cut back on the amount of resources we consume and limit the negative impacts we have on the immediate environment—starting with these four environmentally friendly lighting solutions.
Friendly Lighting Solution #1: Achieve Energy Efficiency with LED Lighting
LED lighting is quickly becoming a dominant force in the lighting market. LEDs are more efficient and longer lasting than any other available lighting technology. If Haitz’s Law about the development of LED lighting continues to hold true, LEDs will reach an amazing efficacy of 150–180 lm/W by the year 2020.
In the recent past, consumers complained that the brilliant-blue glow of LED lights were off-putting, not to mention how expensive they were to install. LED technology has since advanced and now boasts a wide range of kelvin temperatures and color-rendition levels available for use in many fixture types. Consumers may soon have wider access to emerging LED technologies such as color-controlled human-centric lighting, which can improve mood and concentration by mimicking the natural shifts in light temperature that occur when the sun rises and sets.
Friendly Lighting Solution #2: Maximize Efficiency with Directional Lighting
Waste occurs when people use more than they need. This rule applies to lighting as much as it does to food, water, or fuel. Excessive outdoor lighting at night can cause dangerous glare for drivers and create light pollution that degrades our view of the night sky and disturbs the neighbors.
Directional lighting ensures that light goes where you need it to go without overspilling where it isn’t wanted. Directional lighting also allows consumers to save energy by providing as much light as necessary without having to power a larger fixture that sheds more light less efficiently.
Friendly Lighting Solution #3: Save the Sky with Fully Shielded and Full Cutoff Fixtures
Since 1988, the International Dark Sky Alliance has been advocating for the right of future generations to observe and enjoy the full beauty of the night sky. The movement was initiated by a group of concerned astronomers who realized that excessive, inefficient outdoor lighting in heavily populated cities and towns was outshining our view of the stars. They created a set of standards by which to measure the potential for light fixtures to help or hurt the cause against light pollution.
Protecting the night sky is as easy as choosing fixtures that are listed as “fully-shielded” or “full cutoff.” These fixtures are specifically designed to shine light downward and prevent light leakage. With LEDs, lamps can be built with a “forward throw,” which will direct the light across a court or park without having to tilt the fixture upward and release any excess photons skyward.
Friendly Lighting Solution #4: Help Endangered Species with Amber LEDs
Environmental concerns extend beyond courtesy and conservation benefitting humankind. Bright nighttime lighting can be damaging to nocturnal neighbors such as bats, migrating birds, sea turtles, and other amphibious creatures. These animals use the sun, moon, and stars as natural compasses to determine patterns of movement and regulate biological functions such as hormone production. Artificial lighting can confuse and harm species that have evolved to thrive on a single, nocturnal light source. By switching to lighting that has the correct wavelength, light sources can be rendered invisible to animals, allowing humans to achieve lighting solutions with a warm amber glow that won’t disrupt nearby wildlife.