In 2011 it was estimated that it costs £600 million to run and maintain the UK’s 7.5 million streetlights. With their average electricity bills rising, councils are now under pressure to reduce the impact they have on their annual budget.
Keeping streetlights on emits an excessive amount of CO2, which also means councils are under pressure from schemes such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC).
In December 2012 Leeds City Council, Worcestershire County Council, Warwickshire Council and Wiltshire Council announced they would switch off in total 75,000 streetlights to save money and energy.
In switching off the lights public and road safety is breached. There have been more road accidents due to visibility and there has been an increase in attacks on females.
What’s the Solution?
Durham County Council replaced 86,000 streetlights with the new dimmable solution that hopes to cut £4 million from its electricity bill and meet its target in lowering carbon emissions of 40% by 2015. The addition of the monitoring system by LeafNut anticipates to reduce the contribution that the streetlights make to the councils emissions levels by 73%. LeafNut allow councils to wirelessly monitor its street lighting using computed devices. The streetlights are dimmed 25% between 10pm and midnight and 50% between midnight and 5am. This expects to save a minimum of £24 million over the coming 25 years.
Although the concept of dimmable streetlights has been successful, there has been some criticism to the costs involved. In order to assist councils, lighting controls company Harvard Engineering launched a finance scheme, “Install to Save” meaning that councils installing the system will have their expenditure covered by Harvard and the local council repay with the savings achieved from the installation over a period of ten to twenty years.