Idea #2 : Auto-Street Lamps and save £500k per year.

It has always surpised me that the idea I am about to tell you about hasn’t been implemented already.

Street Lamps, Street Lights, Light Poles or Lamposts, whichever you refer to them as, are there to provide (don’t you dare say light!) safety to pedestrians around our citys.

Apart from the nightowls amongst us, most of us are tucked up tightly in our beds at the small hours of the night.  Many of the streets become unused during the hours of darkness, so why do we need to have the lights burning all night long.

My idea was to introduce a street light that is powered by LED, and has some kind of motion sensor that controls the lights within that street.  LED lights are in the most part an instant-on type of light meaning that, should a vehicle or pedestrian pass under a street light at the start of the street, the whole street it lit up instantly.

Each of the lights have a timer switch built in, and when there is no movement detected after a certain period, the light is distinguished, saving the country millions in electricity bills, not just by switching them off when they are not needed, but also replacing them with LEDs.

The lights can also be programmed, much like traditional light poles, that they are only available during certain times of the day or when it is actually getting dark.

Here is an example:

I am a photographer and to me this is a beautiful use of light and very atmospheric, giving a good sense that it is late at night and a completely abandoned car-parking-lot.

If this parking-lot is not being used at this time of night, do we really need to have the lights on…?

How much does it cost to run a street lamp in the uk?

The energy cost in winter is about 15 pence a night
If you include maintenance and replacement costs, it is about 27 pence a night
But costs vary according to the type of street light and the kind of deal struck with suppliers

The 15p a night figure is correct for Powys Council and 12 other authorities in South Wales, which buy their electricity as a consortium. The cost per street lamp will vary for other councils. But Powys’ energy costs have risen 36% in the last year and are set to increase a further 40% in the coming year.

A spokeswoman for Surrey County Council says it pays on average about 15 pence a night, although that figure excludes the maintenance costs such as replacing the bulbs. So what if these are taken into account too?


The cost of 15p per night may not seem a lot, but as the article says – this excludes the cost of maintenance.  Plus this cost is per light.  Over a year this would mount to £54.75 (based on 365 days).  Granted some nights maybe cheaper because of the shorter nights.

£54.75 Per light for on year minus maintenance cost.  Multiply this by say 10 lights in a street (which is not a great deal of lights) comes to £547.50 per year in electricity.

Replacing them with LEDs will reduce the maintenance costs dramatically as they will not need to be replaced as often.

A quick search on – How many street lights are there in the uk? and the first source gives an estimate of 46,789 by one person.  I don’t know if this is correct, but I would guess this is a good number to start with.

So using the figures from earlier per light, per year of £54.75, this comes to:

£54.75 x 46,789 = £2,561,697.50

Even if we saved 25% of this by switching the lights off when they are not needed and not replacing them with LED versions the UK would save approximately £640,424.38 per year in electricity.

Some crazy figures aren’t they.  I think it is amazing this idea hasn’t already been thought of.  You would save huge sums of money in electricity bills each year and you would not be putting anyone at risk of being in darkness late at night.

I think the cost of replacing them to LED versions would off set the savings you get.

That’s Idea number 2.  I would love to hear from you guys on what you think.