Switch Off for Earth Hour

Starting tonight, at 8:30pm, we should turn off all our lights for one hour. This annual event has being practised around the world for a number of years now, but today, it is asking us to go even further. The theme this year is Earth Hour Plus, or Sixty-Plus, as the website suggests, and it means that we should turn off our lights for longer than one hour. We should be making every hour, a Earth Hour, so leaving the lights off for as long as possible should be our goal.

Image, courtesy of www.earthhour.org

The big question that I kept getting Twittered on was what am I going to do this year?

I posted on Twitter, asking what everyone else is doing, or going to do tonight when we reach 8:30pm and start our Earth Hour of darkness. I only got a couple of replies. One was just an out right defiance to the whole concept of switching off lights and anything else, and saying that the whole concept of “Earth Hour is a total joke.” Another response was that Earth Hour has been gobbled up by corporate ideologies, and that buying a energy efficient light bulbs is not the way to honour mother Earth. The Tweep stated that “buying less light bulbs and using them less is the way to go…” My Tweet just kept getting retweeted for the rest of the day. But I got Tweets asking what I was going to do about Earth Hour too.

I feel that I have practised the art of energy conservation to the letter. I have done this not because I really care about the environment, or believe that it is my duty to lead by example, but because of sheer necessity. With the economic melt-down, money has gotten tight. Compounded with inflation, and the sharp increase in energy prices, measures had to be put into place to cope with the ever growing burden of the cost of living. You could say that it is conservation by belt-tightening.

So, conserving energy. This meant that lights had to be turned off, and the heat lowered to just a livable standard, and using things that stay turned on now get turned off when not in use. So a room that is not in sue gets it heat turned way down, and only the room that is lived in the most gets the cozy room temperature. Also, appliances like the hot water tank and fridge are turned down to a lower level. Remember that these were implement during the winter months, so the effect was drastic, but beneficial, as my electric bill was cut in half for the high usage season.

Resisting the use of fossil fuels. Originally my home was heated by liquid propane, a fossil fuel. When I first moved into it, heating it with propane was economical because the cost was so cheep. Soon afterwards the cost of fossil flues shot through the roof and heating with it became an expensive luxury, and was then sparingly turned on during the coldest of times. Now, it has never been turned on since early 2006. It was replaced with electric heat, as British Columbia has probably the cheapest rates in the world. Of course our provincial government wants to change that, to make it a more competitive utility to sell abroad, if I can believe that, so this resource is in peril as an affordable utility.

The ultimate goal would be to go “off the grid,” as this seems to be the best way to not only conserving energy use, but conserving money too.  However, I am not in a position to do that. I can do little things to start the ball rolling towards total reduction of energy use, and part of that would be rebuilding my home to become more energy efficient than ever before.

So, tonight at 8:30pm, I will be turning off all of my lights, and will use a candle as I write my journal in pen to paper, like I do most nights anyway.  I may continue on until I go to sleep which should be about four hours or no electric lights.

Please visit the Earth Hour official website.

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