Greener Traffic Lights

The city of Houston is poised to spend more than 16-million dollars on traffic signals. It's part of an ongoing effort to reduce energy consumption. Laurie Johnson explains.
Driving around the city, you may notice some traffic lights appear much brighter than others.

That's likely because those signals are fitted with LED bulbs.

Light-emitting diodes are the bulb du jour.

Houston Mayor Bill White says they'll spend $16.4 million to retrofit all of the city's traffic lights.

"You know we could save about I've heard 80 percent and 90 percent, but it's somewhere in that range, of our electricity consumption on these traffic signals. And there has been and was a cost-benefit analysis done and this has a positive rate of investment for the city."?

LEDs are more expensive than conventional lighting. But they're easier for drivers to see, especially when driving into the sun.

And they last exponentially longer than halogen or incandescent light bulbs.

"It's the type of thing that we've been doing in the city to save the city money in the long run, to make energy efficiency improvements. Sometimes it costs a little bit more up front, but over the long run the savings are worth it."

Traffic lights in the Texas Medical Center and Midtown areas have already been converted under a federal grant.

City employees also installed LEDs in a number of repaired signals after Hurricane Ike.

Houston councilmembers will vote on the additional expenditure next week.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...