The latest trend in home buying sounds simple but is proving elusive for most real estate shoppers: true darkness. Many frazzled urban dwellers are seeking a sanctuary, a house where they can feel at peace and thoroughly isolated, but light pollution has saturated even remote rural areas. A recent study in the United Kingdom indicated that 59 percent of households surveyed could see fewer than 10 stars outside their homes at night.
The most common forms of light pollution are “light trespass” — outdoor home lighting and street lights, “sky glow” — the orange glow that rises from cities, and “glare” — harsh white light from housing complexes and businesses. Lights used by homeowners are more powerful than they need to be, and streetlights stay on all night even in small communities.
Light pollution, aside from destroying a lovely view of the night sky, wastes energy and disrupts the health of many species, including humans. Fortunately, organizations from the global Dark-Sky Movement to village councils are doing something about it. Ordinances limit the duration, angle, and power of public lighting. Parks are taking back the sky and seeing a tremendous rise in visitors.
Here’s what you, the homeowner, can do to help reduce the light pollution in your community.
– Take a look at your outdoor lighting. Is it necessary, or could the same level of security be obtained with locks? Does it have to be on all night?
– Check the wattage: a 150W light is more than adequate, but many homes are equipped with 300W or 400W floodlights. Often a 9W porch light will deter vandals and thieves.
– Are lights adjusted so they illuminate only those areas necessary for safety? Improperly angled lights can bleed over into neighboring properties or straight up into the sky. Another way to reduce pollution is to install shields above the lights.
These measures will not only save you money but improve your evening view and possibly even increase the value of your home. Also, upgrading your lights is a lot more convenient than relocating to a tiny island in the Orkneys.