A quiet revolution in street lighting

With bills rising dramatically, there’s been a lot of interest in ways to save energy recently. Replacing old light bulbs with LEDs is a common piece of advice. But what if you could do that with a whole town? That would be quite a saving.

Luton has in fact just done that. Over the last few years over 18,500 street lights have been switched over to LEDs, with the transformation very nearly complete. Perhaps you’ve noticed them where you are.

There are multiple benefits to LED (Light Emitting Diode) street lights. For a start, they consume a fraction of the energy. As more and more streetlights have been switched over, the council is now saving a million pounds a year on its electricity bills.

There’s obviously a saving in carbon emissions too. Emissions from lighting have been cut by 80% since the beginning of the transition.

An added benefit is that LED bulbs are very reliable and require almost no maintenance. With nothing but a routine inspection from time to time, they should light the streets for 20+ years without needing a bulb change.

The LED streetlights are also better for wildlife, because they are designed to point downwards, reducing the light pollution that can affect birds and insects. Local star-gazers will hopefully notice a reduction in ‘sky glow’ as well.

There is still a little work to do to get the last few streetlights replaced, with some further savings expected from replacing the control mechanisms. Overall though, the patient work of switching over Luton’s streetlights has delivered safer streets, lower emissions and cheaper electricity bills for the town.


Published by Jeremy Williams

Jeremy is an author and activist based in Luton. He writes serious books for adults, less serious books for children. His blog, The Earthbound Report, has been recognised as the best green blog in the UK by Vuelio and the UK Blog Awards.

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