Wasted light

Denver gets most of its electric power from burning coal.

If Denver used less coal, our air would be cleaner.

Car dealerships use a lot of electric power every night after closing. They brightly light their parking lots and the inside of their showrooms.

I suppose they want to attract the buying public to their shiny new and gently-used vehicles.

But how many times do you see people stopping to look at those cars at night after closing? Never.

The idea is that drivers passing by will remember, “Oh, I passed by that group of shiny Acuras last night. Today, I need to see what they look like in the daylight!”


So here’s the idea: if a study was done on the difference between minimal viable lighting for showrooms and car lots at night, and their current ultra-bright usage, the dealerships could be charged WAY more for any use above the minimum viable amount. Let’s say it might cost a dealership $100,000 more a month to burn all those lights instead of the current cost of maybe $3,000 more.

Each dealership would be charged individually and have its own base vs. ultra-bright rate.

This would be more efficient than a tax. The expenses to get this system going would be a one-time occurrence. A team of contractors could do the study. The power companies would get software created to do the extra fee charging.┬áThose costs would easily be paid for out of the first few month’s savings.

If car dealerships decreased their zillion-kilowatt light shows, we might be able to see the stars again.

Denver already does this for water since we live in a dry high-desert environment.

Sometimes we all need a little push to do the right thing.


4 Replies to “Wasted light”

  1. I suspect that many of them still use legacy lights, too — they could save a ton of money and energy by switching to LED lighting.

  2. I think there’s another reason for bright night lights: security. Anyone going on the lot to steal or tamper with a car would be pretty obvious. Even if no one noticed them at the time, they would show up pretty well on a security camera.

    1. Great point, Deb.

      I did think of that – and a good solution would be to have motion-activated lights. That would save a ton of energy and also allow those who want to view the cars while not having a salesperson breathing down their necks.

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