Millions of people, businesses and governments around the world unite each year to support the largest environmental event in history, “Earth Hour”. Starting off as a lights-off event to raise awareness about climate change in 2007, Earth Hour has gained massive momentum since then. In fact, last year hundreds of millions of people in over 7,000 cities and 162 countries took part in the world’s largest voluntary mass participation environmental initiative. This year, Earth Hour 2015 is on 28 March 2015, 8:30 pm.
Earth Hour is a symbolic act of global unity to contemplate our impact on the planet and celebrate our commitment to protecting it. Whilst in South Africa we have regular, involuntary “Earth Hours” thanks to load shedding, it is still worth taking some time to remember the fragility of our planet.
So, how can each of us support Earth Hour? It’s easier than you might think:
Replace your light bulbs
Gone is the day when the incandescent light bulb was our only choice for home or office lighting. Did you know that an incandescent light bulb produces mostly heat and not light? That’s why they often burn out after only a few short months of use. Making the choice to switch your light bulbs to compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) will provide bright, warm light; while generating 75 percent less heat, using about 75 percent less energy than standard lighting and lasting from 10 to 50 times longer. Consider swapping out bulbs in the most high impact areas - each one will make a difference.
Eliminate vampire energy
Most of your appliances and electronics continue pulling electricity from the outlet, even when switched off. This is commonly referred to as “idle current usage” or “vampire energy.” A relatively inexpensive way to eliminate these energy vampires is to plug frequently used appliances into smart power strips that reduce the amount of energy used when the device is in idle or off mode.
Cooling our homes in our warm climate accounts for a large chunk of your energy bill. There is a lot you can do to drive down this cost. Simple steps like changing air filters regularly, properly using a programmable thermostat and having your cooling equipment maintained annually by a licenced contractor can save energy and increase comfort, while helping to protect the environment.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Reducing, reusing and recycling helps conserve energy and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from resource extraction, manufacturing and disposal. If there is a recycling programme in your community, recycle your newspapers, beverage containers, paper and other goods. Also, composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
You don’t need to wait for Earth Hour to make these positive changes though, make these simple practices a part of your daily routine.