We all know the stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. But keeping the night skies dark so we can continue to enjoy the stars requires some extra effort and mindfulness.
Outdoor lighting has important applications, such as keeping our outdoor spaces safe and usable at night. But it can easily result in wasted energy that creates sky glow, dimming the starry night sky for everyone. This light, and the electricity used to create it, is wasted when it spills into the sky instead of onto the objects it is intended to illuminate.
Lighting the sky
The inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light at night can scatter diffused light into the atmosphere, causing sky glow and making it harder to see the stars at night. Common sources include exterior and interior building lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, and streetlights.
According to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), improper outdoor lighting is responsible for massive electricity overuse. IDA estimates that at least 30% of all outdoor lighting in the U.S. is wasted, mostly by lights that aren’t shielded. That’s a total cost of $3.3 billion each year – enough wasted electricity to power New York City for two years!
How you can help
Reducing sky glow is simple and can save you money. Follow these tips at home:
- Light only what you need. Illuminate fewer areas and make sure the light is directed only on the intended space.
- Use energy efficient bulbs, and avoid using excessively high wattages.
- Shield outdoor lights and direct them downward.
- Add automatic timers so lights are only on when needed.
- Choose warm, white light bulbs.
- Spread the word. Tell your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors how they can help preserve the night sky.
If you need to install an outdoor safetly light on your property, PEC can help. In order to save energy and prevent excess light from spilling into the night sky, consider bulb options PEC offers at 3,000K or below — and be sure the light is shielded and only illumates what is needed.
PEC’s service area is home to several International Dark Sky Communities, and we support efforts to keep the stars shining bright for all of our members. In addition to supplying dark sky compliant streetlights to municipalities, PEC can supply and install compliant lights on members’ property as well. Members interested in having a light installed can contact PEC’s Planning Department at 877-372-0391.