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Light Pollution: The Dark Side of Outdoor Lights

How Artificial Nighttime Lighting Is Affecting Our Skies, Wildlife, Environment, and Health

 

As many homeowners, you are taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint at home. You dutifully recycle glass, metal, paper, and plastic waste each week. You replace all the incandescent light bulbs in your home with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. However, you may be unwittingly contributing to carbon emissions and interfering with delicate ecosystems through light pollution.

 

Light pollution, unlike other forms of contamination and waste, remains largely overlooked and unregulated in many countries. Learn the cause, types, and effects of light pollution, and how adjusting your outdoor lighting habits can reduce this form of waste.

 

What is Light Pollution?

Light pollution, also known as photopollution or luminous pollution, is the excessive, misdirected or invasive use of artificial outdoor lighting. Mismanaged lighting alters the color and contrast of the nighttime sky, eclipses natural starlight, and disrupts circadian rhythms (the 24-hour processes of most organisms), which affects the environment, energy resources, wildlife, humans and astronomy research. The threat of light pollution continues to grow as the demand for artificial light increases each year.

 

Photopollution is not a new phenomenon. Over the last 50 years, as countries became affluent and urbanized, demand for outdoor lighting increased and light pollution sprawled beyond the city limits and into suburban and rural areas. This form pollution is now prevalent in Asia, Europe, and North America, particularly in cities like Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. In 2008, National Geographic magazine named Chicago the most light-polluted city in the United States.

 

However, the most light-polluted spot in the world is Hong Kong, China. In March 2013, the University of Hong Kong named the city the most light polluted in the world. A study by the university found the night sky in Tsim Sha Tsui, an urban neighborhood in southern Kowloon, Hong Kong, to be 1,200 times brighter than a normal urban city sky. Luminous pollution of this magnitude is on the rise worldwide. In a 2010 article from the Ecology and Society Journal, Hölker and others stated the use of artificial lighting increases by 20% each year, depending on the region, and noted there is an urgent need for light pollution policies that surpass energy efficiency to include humans, animals and the environment.

 

10 Fire Safety Tips for Kids and Adults

Learn How to Protect Your Home from Electrical Fires

According to FEMA, electrical fires end the lives of roughly 280 Americans each year, while injuring 1,000 more. The causes of these fires range from easy preventable extension cord problems to serious issues such as bad wiring in your living space. When installing and using our ceiling fans, floor fans and lighting fixtures we ask you to consider using these fire safety tips. 

 

NashuaPatch.com recently reported a fire that started in an apartment building because of a malfunctioning overheated bathroom ceiling fan. The Watertown Patch more recently reported a two-alarm blaze in a home that was caused by faulty wiring in a ceiling fan. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the fires caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to the buildings and displaced two families.

 

Kids Fire SafetyFire Safety Worksheet Fire Safety Certificate

 

Electrical Fire Safety Interview with a Fireman

 

 

 

How to Use Ambient, Accent, and Task Lighting

15 Ways to Master the Different Types of Lighting in Your Home and Office
 

What is task lighting? How to create accent lighting? What else is available besides ambient lighting? With so many different types of lighting available, it can get a little confusing when designing a lighting scheme for your home or office. Our guide explains the different types of lighting - ambient, task and accent, how to use them effectively, and which light fixtures to use create your desired lighting.

 

Three Main Types of Lighting

1. Ambient Lighting (General Lighting)

This is one of the most common types of lighting. Ambient light is a soft glow that blankets your space just enough for you to function without causing a harsh glare. In photography and cinematography, ambient light is considered the “natural light” within a room. In décor, ambient light is very similar, except you create the ambient light by making the room’s lighting as natural and flat as possible. While ambient light is meant to get you safely from point A-to-B, it is not ideal for working closely with things or to highlight things around your space.

 

Ambient Lighting

 

Atmosphere: When used correctly, ambient light creates a fantastic environment to relax from an overly stressful day or to have a warm conversation with an old friend. Ambient lighting is often referred to as mood lighting, because this light captures the soft curves of your face and allows your pupils to dilate slightly (a physical sign of affection). Some yoga studios have even begun using the softer ambient lighting in their classes to help draw stress from the body.

 

How to Get This Look: We recommend using the following lights to create ambient light.

 

Incandescent Light Bulbs: The Controversy

Are Incandescent Light Bulbs Really Illegal?

 

As children, many of us were afraid to sleep in what seemed like then our pitch-black bedrooms, and we begged our parents to leave the bathroom or hallway light on. If you were lucky, they agreed after many outbursts. If you were truly lucky, you had a night light or a portable lamp on a bedside table. Kids still play the light game at night, turning lights on and off continuously. It seems they haven’t heard, according to some sources, this kind of behavior could get them arrested in 2013.

 

What Led to the Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent Light Bulb DiagramAs it  is often the case, the truth is less dramatic than the hype. The legislation that has everybody all worked up over incandescent light bulbs actually passed back in 2007, and is known as the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. The entire energy act is 822 pages long, and encompasses everything from building regulations to fuel standards, but the section that has generated the most speculation is the one on the simple household light bulb.

 

So what does the government have against these harmless looking incandescent light bulbs, anyway? It turns out, they are the household equivalent of a gas-guzzling SUV; they require energy to run, and lots of it. Light bulbs that are used in chandelier lights are the incandescent bulbs they are talking about. The scientists at Michigan State University explain the process this way: “Incandescent bulbs use heat caused by an electrical current. When electrical current passes through a wire, it causes the wire to heat. The wire, or filament, gets so hot that it glows and gives off light.” All to power a single light bulb.

 

Westinghouse Wants You to Recycle Your Old Light Bulbs

Recycle Your Old Light Bulbs and Ballasts in 5 Earth-Friendly Steps

 

Recycling used to mean only one thing to most of us: tin cans. And maybe the occasional cardboard box. But that is so 2012. Today, H&M offers a coupon for a bag of your old clothes, the military will recycle your unwanted cell phones, and Apple will gladly take that retired MacBook off your hands. Environmentally conscious consumers are composting food scraps and reusing milk jugs, and words like repurpose and upcycle have entered the mainstream. Many people are even recycling ceiling fan light bulbs.

 

 

Reasons to Recycle Your Old Light Bulbs

Westinghouse RecyclePakEnergy-efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) contain a trace amount of mercury, an essential component in attaining energy savings, and while these light bulbs help consumers and businesses reduce their energy use and energy costs, it's important that any product containing mercury is properly handled in order to protect public health and the environment. It is estimated businesses recycle 30 percent of the used light bulbs annually, and this number is only set to increase as more switch to energy-efficient lighting. Consumer are also embracing this practice with Westinghouse Light Bulb Recycling Program. You can bow recycle the light bulbs from your Westinghouse fans as well as any other household light bulbs.

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