12 Months of Going Green: Lights Out January

wildlife conservation, wild animals
Going Green Means Taking Action for Wildlife. Light pollution is caused by the many lights of cities and suburbs that glow in the night sky. This unnatural light is taking its toll on bird populations that use moon and stars to guide their night migrations.

Artificial lights after sunset can disorient birds, lead them astray, or even cause them to crash or circle brightly lit buildings until they become too exhausted to fly. In fact, a study by the Field Museum in Chicago found that turning off the lights at one downtown high-rise reduced migratory bird deaths there by 80 percent.

Golden Gate Audubon Society, a local partner of Oakland Zoo, runs a program called Lights Out that encourages building owners, managers and tenants to work together to ensure that any and all unnecessary lighting is turned off during spring and fall migrations. PG&E even offers rebates for installing motion sensors and light timers. Easy choices like these save birds' lives, and save money and energy, too.

Get the Facts

  • Artificial lights account for 44% of electricity used in office buildings.

  • Lighting accounts for roughly 15% of your electricity bill.

  • Turning off a single 100-watt bulb from dusk until dawn saves an average of 417 kwH of electricity, or $46 a year in bulbs and electricity costs.

  • Some types of bulbs are more efficient than others, but the most-energy efficient bulb of all is one that's turned off when not in use.

Bring It Home

What you can do at home!

  • Opt for natural light, instead of artificial lights when you can. Sunlight is not only good for your health, it can improve your mental health by helping to boost serotonin levels in your body (a hormone to help regulate mood). Get some sun and smile more!

  • Choose to use a personal light rather than a room light.The energy required to light a whole room will generally be more than the light required to light up just a specific area. Use personal lights, like lamps, to illuminate only the area you need.

  • Turn off all lights when leaving the room for 15 minutes or more. Why pay for electricity to light up a room no one is using?

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs! While LEDs are more expensive per bulb, they use 10% of the energy of incandescent bulbs and last MUCH longer - 50,000 hours vs. 1,200 hours! LEDs are also more durable and emit less heat, saving you money in the long term.