By the end of 2017, every streetlight in Waterloo Region will feature LED lighting.

Regional councillors have approved a $12.7-million contract to replace more than 42,000 lights in each of the region’s cities and townships.

Bob Henderson, the region’s manager of transportation engineering, says the LED lights will cost about half as much to operate as the existing bulbs, saving the region about $500,000 a year.

“LED streetlights can work very well,” he says.

While LED lights were expensive when they were first introduced, Henderson says the region has seen prices come down in recent years, while the technology itself has improved.

Earlier this year, the American Medical Association released a report finding that LED lights can contribute to distracted driving, insomnia and obesity.

The AMA recommended that LED lights be kept at low levels – a maximum colour temperature of 3000 degrees Kelvin – to avoid those health hazards.

The region’s use of LED lights is expected to fall within that guideline.

Streetlight replacement work is expected to start later this month.

With reporting by Alexandra Pinto