Earth Hour is a campaign by World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about and inspire action against climate change. The idea is to turn off as much power as you can for one hour from 8:30pm – 9:30pm; this year, Earth Hour happens on Saturday March 25th.
Participating in Earth Hour is a nice gesture, but long-term action is really needed to make a meaningful change. If sitting around in candle-light inspires you to use less energy all year, than I say go for it (with fragrance-free all-natural candles, right?). But realistically the actions are more symbolic than anything. This year, I’d like to challenge you to use the hour more productively. Complete each challenge, and you’ll be well on your way to reducing your carbon footprint (and utility bills) year-round, not just for the hour.
Have a peak at this list and pick up anything you need in advance. Aaaaand, go!
- Change your furnace filter, if you have a furnace. It should be changed every 1 – 3 months to help your furnace fan run more efficiently.
- Review your programmable thermostat (or if you don’t have one, make a plan to go get one – check out the Nest or EcoBee). You should be wearing a sweater in the winter and short sleeves in the summer comfortably. If you have to significantly change your layers when you’re inside, you’re likely wasting energy.
- Print coupons (here if you’re in Ontario) for energy-saving products like CFL or LED lightbulbs, programmable power bars, and EnergyStar rated equipment (OK, so printing uses energy, but you’ll save more in the long-run with the right purchases).
- Make a plan to install programmable power bars to plug in electronics like your TV equipment, stereo, and computer equipment. You can set these to shut off while you’re sleeping to eliminate phantom loads.
- Create a meal plan for next week, and corresponding grocery list. Wasted food also means wasted energy and resources, and this is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste.
- Schedule time to review your utility bills. Pull out your calendar and make a date over the next week to review your bills to determine when and how you use power. Make sure you’re taking advantage of time-of-use billing if your utility has it. Your utility provider may have tools to help – like Toronto Hydro’s Conservation tools. I can also help you with a behavioural audit (unlike typical energy audits, I focus on low-cost strategies rather than large equipment upgrades or energy efficiency renovations).
If you do all these in the dark with your devices unplugged, you can feel good about participating in the traditional Earth Hour. And the results of your efforts will make you a true climate change fighter for the long term, which is really what we need.
Have you made an effort to reduce climate change through your daily actions? I’d love to hear what you are working on and how it’s working for you!