The lights are going out a little earlier this weekend. Saturday marks Earth Hour. Starting at 8:30 p.m. in your time zone you are encouraged to turn off any non-essential lights for one hour. This hour represents a moment of solidarity for our planet.
Earth Hour started in 2007 as a lights-out event in Sydney Australia. It has since spread throughout the globe with over 180 countries taking part in the movement. Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) it is the biggest grassroots movement for the environment. Earth Hour has helped bring to light the dangers of climate change and sparked environmental action around the world.
You can help the environment (and even your wallet) beyond a single hour this March 24th. We’ve compiled a short list of free or low-cost things you can do to help the environment. Oh, and you could probably save a few hundred bucks as well. To make it easier we’ve broken it down to no cost and low-cost options.
Phantom power is electricity used by plugged-in products that aren’t actually doing anything. For example, a plugged phone charger or coffee maker with no phone being charged or coffee being made. So, when you’re not using products like these consider pulling the plug. Not only will you reduce the amount of electricity you use, but you could save $50 off your electricity bill.
You probably didn’t realize but the air is nature’s hairdryer, clothes dryer and dishwasher dryer. You can save a ton of energy by letting your clothes air dry instead of sticking it all in the dryer. If you do need to use the dryer, consider letting towels and heavier clothes air dry. This can help reduce the minutes your dryer uses and save you a little money. (BONUS: If you use your clothes dryer, clean the lint tray after every use. A clogged one uses 30% more energy!)
Similarly, you can air dry your dishes after you’ve preferably hand washed them, but if you vow to use your dishwasher, always try to wait for a full load of dishes and switch to the air-dry option after washing.
You can use curtains and/or blinds to use mother nature as your natural heater and/or air conditioner. For the winter months, open your curtains and let that sunlight in. It can help warm up your space and help you rely less on your heater. In the summer do the exact opposite. Close them up to block out the light and help keep the heat out. This once again lessens your dependency on your air conditioner. Now in the summer and winter, you’ll be able to save money and a whole lot of energy.
Change Your Light Bulbs:
An easy first step for everyone is changing your light bulbs. Replacing any incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs can easily save you money and energy. Not only are CFL bulbs more energy efficient but they last much longer than traditional bulbs. That means you’ll save money by not replacing them all the time and your electrical bill.
Feeling a draft from a window or door? You might want to insulate that. It’s not efficient to heat a room that is always letting in the cold and luckily its an easy fix. You can use weather strips to line windows and doors, or you even use bubble wrap to coat your windows to keep the cold out. Either way, you’ll be using less energy heating your space and using more of your own money for yourself.
Program Your Thermostat
Programming your thermostat can be another way to save energy and a few bucks. The simplest thing to do to save money is to schedule when your heating and air conditioning are on and off. When you’re in the house have it on and when you’re out turn it off. There’s no point in heating/cooling a space that is not in use.
Also, when you do have your heating or air conditioning on, take advantage of the off-peak hours of your hydro provider. You can save money by programming your thermostat to work within the off-peak hours of your city.
Remember, doing your part for the environment isn’t limited to one hour of the year. It’s easy to do every day! For more information on Earth Hour, you can visit their website.