Putting the spotlight on outdoor lighting

It doesn’t matter if it’s a campfire or the Las Vegas strip: Humans love light at night. And at night it’s only natural to flick on the outside lights to make yourself feel secure.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a campfire or the Las Vegas strip: Humans love light at night.

And at night it’s only natural to flick on the outside lights to make yourself feel secure.

But super-bright outdoor lighting can actually give crooks the upper hand — and can disturb the nocturnal rhythms of lake-dwelling creatures.

Bright outdoor lights at night create glare (a direct shining into the eye) and sky glow (a composite of lights that illuminate the sky). Both contribute to light pollution, a pollution unique to our modern world that has harmful impacts on animals.

The effects of light pollution on the lake environment are numerous and complex. Since many creatures are nocturnal or depend on natural light patterns to time their life cycles, artificial light at night can alter their behavior and hamper their survival.

Some animals rely on changing daylight hours to predict what time of year it is. An abundance of light at night may confuse them into thinking the days are longer.

This could cause them to reproduce too early in the spring when weather and food supplies are not suitable.  Alterations to migratory birds’ reproduction and feeding patterns can also delay their southern migration or preparations to overwinter.

But how does light pollution give crooks the upper hand?

Instead of adding to security, extraordinarily bright lights create dark shadows for crooks to hide in, while glare makes it difficult for police to see them.

This is because our eyes cannot adjust to extreme light-dark contrasts. In neighbourhoods where many people are absent from their homes, bright lights give criminals ample light to see what they’re doing.

Security and Ecology Solutions: Using certain types of lights and fixtures dramatically reduces all of these negative effects at a surprising rate.

Low wattage (18, 35 or 55 watts), low-pressure sodium lights are one of the best types of lights for energy savings and creating the right amount of light to properly illuminate an area for security purposes.

Fixtures that completely shield the bulb and direct light only where it is needed ensure that no light is wasted, allowing a low wattage bulb to produce the same amount of usable light as a high wattage bulb in an open fixture.

A shielding fixture is also important in reducing the amount of light your neighbours can see, as well as reducing glare and sky glow.

Although better bulbs and fixtures may cost more initially, they will pay for themselves in energy savings in as few as two years.

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are a society representing a cross-section of community stakeholders committed to directing water quality monitoring and stewardship.

Submitted

Special to The Valley Echo

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