Working toward legislation to curb light pollution in Illinois.

Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting

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                In Your Yard

Good Lighting Practices for Homes and Yards

The only good thing about light pollution is that it is completely reversible. And unlike some other large environmental problems, there are many things that each of us can do at home and in our yards to directly combat the energy waste and ecological disruption caused by bad lighting practices:

  • If exterior lights are necessary around a home, they should be installed with motion sensors instead of using continuous lighting. Motion activated lights will turn on only when they are needed, and then turn themselves off after a pre-set time. This will save money, and minimize excess lighting; motion activated lighting is also a better deterrent to prowlers than always-on lights*. Lights should be properly mounted and directed (focused) on the ground, to prevent glare and light trespass which can make it harder for neighbors to see if someone is trespassing. Bare bulb flood lights should not be used for this application. Shields** are available that fit onto PAR bulbs to eliminate their stray light and glare.
  • *Although the FBI reports that the majority of home burglaries occur in the daytime, motion activated light fixtures around your home can also provide great convenience for you and your family as you come and go or use the yard. The False Alarm Reduction Association states that "Burglary research conducted by criminologists list motion activated-lighting as a significant deterrent to burglars who committed their crimes at night". See our article on outdoor lighting and crime at Lighting Practices > Articles & Studies > Light & Crime for further discussion.      **See Parshield for examples of add-on shields for standard floodlight lamps.

  • For the best in environmental responsibility, all household exterior lighting fixtures should be of the fully focused type*** and properly mounted so that all of the light falls on the ground to prevent glare and light trespass. Using fully focused light fixtures allows the use of a lower wattage light bulb as all the light which the lamp creates is directed to where it is needed, with very little waste. Turning exterior lighting off except when it is really needed is the best option to reduce light pollution and to save both money and natural resources.
  • ***See Starry Night Lights for some examples of home outdoor lights which put the light just where it is needed.

  • "Vanity lighting" around homes is strongly discouraged, but if landscape lighting is installed, focused fixtures should be used to reduce glare and light trespass****. Lamps of the lowest wattage lamps possible should be used, and low wattage spotlights should be directed at an angle that does not exceed 45 degrees from the ground. All landscape lighting should be controlled by a timer, so that the lights turn off by 11 p.m. The use of solar landscape lighting should be avoided when possible; although solar lights are do not use household electricity, they can not be turned off, so they stay on all night or until their batteries run down.
  • ****See Starry Night Lights for some examples of landscape lights which direct their output down onto the landscape.

    Opaque window shades will keep your inside lighting inside.

  • Closing window drapes and shades within a home after dark will prevent interior lighting from escaping; it is amazing how much interior light impacts the exterior environment. The curtains in the downstairs windows in the home pictured on the right allow the indoor lighting to escape outside, while the upstairs room has its opaque shades drawn, keeping the light of that room inside, where it belongs.

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