Amidst a variety of government funding cuts and rising energy costs, the majority of local councils in England have taken to dimming or switching off their street lighting between midnight and 6am to save on their energy bills. Other councils are proposing similar motions to bring down energy costs.
These reports at the tail end of 2014 stated that councils were facing “huge financial pressures”, the government is stating it is up to the local councils to “make the right call” on spending. This is mainly due to the soaring cost of energy over the last few years with some councils saying the cost of lighting the streets has “more than doubled in the last 10 years”. It’s been said that by turning off street lamps at night, councils can save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. In an economy where every penny counts, that’s an idea many councils have been taking seriously.
To counter this, researchers have pointed to evidence that this practice has caused an increase in car accidents, crime rates going up under cover of darkness and people having to walk home in the dark after a night at their local. The AA have gone on record to state 3.1% of accidents on well lit roads are fatal, on unlit roads the number increases to 4.9%.
One month into 2015 and many councils are revealing plans to move their street lighting over to an LED solution. Salford council trialled this idea in 2011 where they fitted 300 streets with LED lights. The council noticed a saving of £80,000 in their energy bill and are set to roll out LED street lamps across Salford over the next 5 years. They expect to save £1.6m per year over the 20 year lifespan of the LED lanterns and bring it’s target carbon emissions down by 30%, that’s a massive saving environmentally and financially.
Meanwhile Leicestershire are waiting on a final decision on with a “spend to save” plan by investing £25m in a 3 year roll-out of LED street lighting, the predicted result would be a saving of £2m per year in energy costs and a 60% reduction in energy use.
The cost saving benefits of LED lighting speak for themselves, while local councils can save upwards of £1.6m per year on their energy spends by adopting LED lights, and the majority of them are, it’s easy to see why. LED bulbs are more costly than incandescent bulbs, however the numbers speak for themselves. LED lights come on instantly, generate no heat making them safer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Running cost wise, as a rough approximation, a 6 watt LED bulb will provide the same light as a 60 Watt incandescent bulb yet cost one tenth as much to run so despite being more expensive up front, they will more than pay for themselves in energy savings within the first year.
Changing your whole house over to LED bulbs won’t cost as much as Leicestershire council spending £25m, but it will save you an average £240 per year on your energy bills. the energy savings you make in the first 5-6 months will pay for the up front cost of the LED bulbs, the savings you make over the remainder of the year will more than cover the cost of your TV license, a meal for two at a nice restaurant or go towards the costs of some energy efficient outdoor lighting for your home.