More and more cities across the United States are realizing the benefits of switching their traffic lights from conventional light bulbs to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. LED light bulbs are some of the most energy-efficient light bulbs on the market and have helped towns and cities everywhere save costs on energy, labor, and maintenance. LED bulbs burn brighter and last longer than traditional lights, saving towns money on replacement costs as well. Communities all over the U.S.A. are embracing LED traffic lights and reaping the benefits for both the environment and themselves.
Denver, Colorado began transferring over to LEDs in the late 1990s and are one now of the top users of LED traffic lights in the country. Before, the city spent about $2 million annually on their conventional traffic lights. By switching to LED bulbs that last five times longer and use 90 percent less energy, they put about $800,000 back in their pocket each year in total costs. They also managed to keep about 2,937 tons of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere, which saves as much energy as taking 374 cars off the road.
Boston, Massachusetts converted all of their red traffic signals and pedestrian signs to LEDs and save about $215,000 each year. After sampling 5 random intersections, officials realized that they had lowered energy consumption at those sites by about 35 percent. Now Boston is considering changing all of their green signals as well. In Philadelphia, the cost of switching to LED lights paid for itself in savings within just 2 years. As a result of their success, officials are urging their manufacturers to produce only LED traffic signals. And after saving an estimated $693,000 after converting 18,000 red traffic lights in the borough of Queens in New York City, the NYC Department of Transportation plans to retrofit all of the traffic lights in the rest of the boroughs. On the other side of the nation, communities in California such as Sacramento have started making the switch to LED lights as well; by converting just 300 red lights and some green traffic lights, Sacramento saves about $170,000 each year. Portland, Oregon converted to LED lights in 2001 and now pockets about $335,000 in annual energy bill savings.
In 2007-2008, South Bend, Indiana became the first in the state to make a large shift to LED traffic lights, converting 226 of their signals. It was predicted that the city would save about $2 million after 10 years. After examining records from the first two years, however, officials have been pleasantly surprised to find that the actual yearly savings have already exceeded the predicted amount by $69,000. South Bend officials put these savings to good use, investing in cross-walk countdowns, traffic devices that allow emergency-response vehicles to control traffic signals remotely, and power-supply back-ups for traffic lights that can be used during power outages. In short, all of the savings from making the switch to LED lights went right back into making the community safer and more accessible. They also reduced their carbon footprint substantially. Other areas in the Midwest, such as Madison, Wisconsin and St. Paul, Minnesota have also started making the switch to LED lights.
Based on the successes of other communities, more cities and towns will begin to see LED lights as a smart option that will not only help the environment but will also benefit the citizens themselves. With a lower utility bill, taxpayers will be shelling out less money and taking more time to enjoy the beautiful area in which they live. More officials will hopefully imitate those in South Bend, Indiana and decide to use the savings well by making the community itself a better place to live. Build a brighter, “greener” community by switching conventional traffic lights to energy-efficient LED lights.