Switching all the old incandescent bulbs in your garage (for instance) to LEDs may seem like a small task. However, they say all the little things count and this could apply to one of the most drastic challenges facing our planet: climate change. The UN recently issued a warning stating we only have 12 years to change our behaviour to avert a ‘climate change catastrophe’. The world is currently 1 degree over its pre-industrial level, and devastating effects can already be seen with dramatic weather events: from hurricanes in the U.S. to record droughts in South Africa. If all this world-scale peril sounds daunting, don’t get overwhelmed. There are some easy steps that you can make to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to lowering the global temperature to the 1.5% level agreed upon at the Paris Agreement in 2015. Helping the planet with LEDs: making a complete switch to LEDs You can contribute to helping save the environment right now - the first step is simply thinking about how many light bulbs are currently being used in your home. Next, try and guess how many of these are LEDs - and hopefully the answer should be most of them. For instance, have you made the switch to LED strip-lights along your countertops, shelves and cupboards? What about your exterior lighting? These often exert huge amounts of electricity, and LED Floodlights are shown to save up to 65% in energy savings. At the top of most ‘how to help the environment’ lists is using energy-efficient light bulbs - LEDs. Studies have shown that making your home more energy-efficient has massively contributed to reducing emissions and helping the environment. Here are some additional reasons for making the switch to LEDs: On average, they are brighter than their older counterparts, producing 63 lumens compared to a paltry 12 lumens from traditional bulbs. They use 90% less energy than their equivalent incandescent or halogen light bulb. They have lower running costs, running approximately 20 times longer. They provide instant, bright lighting. The benefits of a complete switch over to LEDs Have you ever thought how many light fittings in your home are LEDs? The truth is many people have slowly been making the switch following the EU’s ban on halogen light bulbs, which took effect in late 2018, and their phasing out of incandescent bulbs since 2009. However, it is likely that you are still losing energy and money with inefficient bulbs throughout your house. It is worth drawing inspiration from the laudable achievement of British couple Pete and Linda Powell, who estimate they are saving over £400 per year, having switched almost all their bulbs to LEDs in their grand Yorkshire home (see the source below). The energy bill for their five-bedroom house used to rack up to an average of £1,344 a year prior to their mini "lighting revolution". Now it is costing them just £700 (approximately). So what is putting people off from switching to LED lighting? One thing may be that many feel uncomfortable with the low-wattage levels given by LED lamps, having become accustomed to the standard 40W, 60W, 75W and even 100W ratings of traditional bulbs. However, the only reason LED lamp wattages are so much lower is their increased efficiency - they don't need to waste as much wattage. The general rule-of-thumb to keep in mind when buying LEDs is simply to multiply the LEDs wattage by 10 to find its equivalent traditional light in brightness. Saving money while you help save the planet - is there any downside? Some may point to the actual cost of buying LEDs to replace every single bulb in the average household and also install them. It cost Pete and Linda Powell around £500, meaning they made their money back in well under a year - and this was in a large 5 bedroom home. The couple have set a precedent that seems well worth following for the average consumer: make the switch now and see the benefits in the medium/long-term. There is of course the added satisfaction of knowing you are doing your small bit to help global temperatures, before it is too late. As one recent BBC article made clear, improving energy efficiency within our households has actually done more to help the environment than the switch to renewable energy. It has been estimated that by following EU-set guidelines on products such as light bulbs, fridges and vacuum cleaners, energy demand has been reduced by a staggering 103TWh since 2005. Compare this to the estimated 95 TWh cut by substituting fossil fuels to renewables in the same time. While both solutions are needed to make the necessary changes to fight global warming, the switch over to LEDs is a practical step every single one of us can make. Articles that helped inspire this article: The Greenage on the various reasons you should make the switch to LEDs. The Telegraph, with a piece on how a British couple successfully made the switch to a completely LED lit home. The Guardian on how we need to take action now, to stop the devastating effects of climate change. We found the top ranked way to save the planet Earth at 50waystohelp. Do you think making a complete switch over to LEDs in your home is practical? Tweet us your thoughts @sparksdirect
This article explores whether public exterior lighting - and in particular LED lighting - is effective or not in tackling crime. There has been much research and investment into tackling crime and making sure neighbourhoods are safe, but the question is, can LED lighting improve the safety of your neighbourhood? Case no. 1: How an LED lighting display transformed an unsafe seaside promenade into a spectacular attraction in Hastings Bottle Alley is a 480 metre lower deck promenade that was built in the 1930's by the Borough engineer Sidney Little, in Hastings on the South coast of England. It received its name due to the multi-coloured glass bottles embedded in the concrete panels that run the length of the alley. The glass bottle display in the wall received plaudits for bringing a flourish of modernist / deco architecture to the area. However, by the turn of the 21st century Bottle Alley had earned a bad reputation, the typical occupants being notorious for their anti-social behaviour and street drinking. The people of Hastings were nervous to take the poorly lit, potentially dangerous route. Reclaiming Bottle Alley - how LED lighting improved safety in HastingsIn 2017, Hastings Borough Council decided to make Bottle Alley an attraction once again, and their tool of choice was an impressive LED lighting and sound display. The Council teamed up with LASER's LED team to replace the dilapidated lighting system and reclaim Bottle Alley. LASER supplied specialist colour-changing LED lighting that could be programmed to create different light displays and be synchronised to music to create light and sound extravaganzas. The existing fluorescent fittings were replaced with 500 metres of LED lighting. On the 25th October 2017, Bottle Alley was launched to the public with a 30-minute light spectacle attended by local councillors, businesses and residents. It was rapturously received and Bottle Alley now regularly hosts 10-minute light shows from Saturday to Thursday, with an extended 30-minute show on Fridays. LASER's Energy Director and LED Development Manager, Joseph Stewart, stated that, I'm proud that we have pulled together as a team to help support Hastings Borough Council deliver this part of their vision for the seafront regeneration. The Lead Councillor for regeneration and culture for Hastings thanked LASER for their work, and remarked that the project had transformed Bottle Alley: It is an absolutely magical walk along the beach that can be enjoyed all year round. The LED lighting project was successful on two fronts: improving the safety of the area and bringing in revenue from increased tourism. The impact of the lighting is such that it’s now being studied by other towns as a cost-effective ‘intervention’ in problem urban areas. For example, Doncaster Council unveiled a 'Smartlight' system, replacing existing street lamps with new LED lamps to help reduce crime and improve public safety. The Smartlight system uses a computer management system to identify faults automatically, sometimes before the lights actually fail and arrange repairs accordingly. Additional benefits of the Smartlight system would be better quality lighting, a reduced carbon footprint and financial savings. Case no. 2: LED Street lighting linked to combating crime and improving safety in New York CityThe New York City Police Department worked in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to organise a study. Run by the Crime Lab they designed a six-month randomised controlled trial that involved nearly 80 public housing developments, all with high crime levels. Half of the developments received new, temporary street lights, whilst half did not. The study found that the developments who had received the new lights would experience significantly lower crime rates than those without the new lights. Overall, the study found that the increased levels of lighting led to a 7% overall reduction in so called ‘index crime’ (index crime being a subset of serious offences including murder, robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes). In particular at night there was a staggering 39% reduction in index crimes, demonstrating a drastic correlation. Cost-benefit graphs showed the lighting upgrades will become cost-effective in six years time. Over 20 years time the additional lighting was seen to reduce the cost of crime and victimisation by $14 million per development. Case no. 3: There may be no correlation between LED street lights and safety from crimeReports from both the BBC and the Guardian both suggested that reduced street lighting did not lead to an increase in crime or car collisions. Research published by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, based on 14 years of data from 62 local authorities across England and Wales, found there was no correlation between reduced lighting and increased crime or collisions. The lead investigators from the reputable UCL actually advised for local authorities to spend less on street lighting, with spending cuts in mind. Mike Riggs called this argument over street lights and safety "a seemingly endless debate", pointing to evidence that street light only made members of the public feel safer and in fact enabled criminals to carry out crimes more easily (to see the contents of a parked car for instance). These are three major case studies which seem to be conflicting....so all in all, there seems to be no clear-cut conclusions as to whether increased LED street brings safety to communities. However, what is your opinion - does improved LED street lighting actually lead to increased safety from crime? Can Street Lighting reduce the number of Crimes - more studies: The effect of reduced street lighting on crime and road traffic injuries at night in England and Wales: a controlled interrupted time series analysis - a study here. Street Lights and Crime: A Seemingly Endless Debate - a study by CityLab in 2014. Does street lighting reduce crime? Yes. The review showed that improved street lighting had a positive effect in reducing crimes such as burglary and theft. It did not, however, reduce the incidence of violent crimes. Released by College of Policing in 2013. Lighting for Streets and the Built Environment - via the Crime Prevention Website. Evidence regarding the impact of the street lighting on crime and antisocial behaviour - study in August 2015 by CRG. What actually happens to crime ‘when the lights are on,’ as Rick Perry suggests - article via Washington Post. The effect of reduced street lighting on road casualties and crime in England and Wales: controlled interrupted time series analysis - a study via BMJ Journals. A 2000 evaluation of a Chicago project to “boost lighting levels in alleys across the city as a tool for public safety and fighting crime” found that, in fact, criminal offenses increased in more well-lit areas, relative to controls. Read the study here. Preventing Crime: what works, what doesn't, and what's promising (a report prepared for the National Institute of Justice, USA) - read it here. The influence of street lighting improvements on crime, fear and pedestrian street use, after dark - study via ScienceDirect. Streetlights Don't Actually Prevent Crime - article via Gizmodo. 20% increase in crime after street light switch-offs - article via Better Retailing here. Switching off street lights at night does not increase car crashes and crime - a study in 2015 via UCL here. Improving Street Lighting to Reduce Crime in Residential Areas - study via, Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, here.
It's all about saving energy plus saving money when it comes to outdoor lights. The design is also important, but sometimes in the dark all you need is a good light fitting mounted on the wall, giving enough light for you to see the pathway or the door. Or all you need is a flood light in the back garden that would switch itself on when the presence of a person is detected. More and more light fittings outdoor work together with a PIR, a presence detector. What's the Problem with Outdoor Lights with PIRs? The principle of a presence detector unit (a PIR) is that it saves you energy and time - when it detects the presence of a person, it switches the light ON, and when no one is there, the light is OFF. But when it comes to outdoor lighting and the IP rating and waterproof and other standards like these, it is not so easy to fit a PIR unit with the wall lights. First of all, the IP rating will be lost if you drill into the case of the light fitting. Also, if the PIR malfunctions or becomes defect, the light fitting will also be lost. Lighting manufacturers are still struggling with this problem. Any Solution for the PIR Triggered Outdoor Lighting? So, what is the solution? We asked our specialists here in the showroom and, no matter how much we want to have a wall-mounted light fitting with a PIR (so that we will never worry about turning ON or OFF the fitting), the manufacturers today don't have a proper solution for this. For the wall lights though it is recommended to use light fittings like the 7408GB Scenic Wall Lamp and AX0562 Homefield Wall Light - together with an energy-saving light bulb. This is the best way to save energy while still saving some money on the outdoor lights. When it comes to flood lights though, you can get some really good fittings like ES95 30W LED flood light with PIR integrated! You can always use a wall-mounted flood light or a garden light with PIR integrated! See the full range of PIR LED flood lights.What is your opinion on this? Is it necessary for the wall lights to also have PIR integrated? Or is it OK to just have them energy saving and low cost? Let us know in the comments and make sure you visit our website at Sparks Direct.