10 Ways to Spend Earth Hour That Can Actually Make a Difference

In 2007, Earth Hour launched in Australia as a “lights-off” event to raise awareness about climate change. Today, the event is observed in 162 countries on the last Thursday in March from 8:30 – 9:30  p.m. local time. And it’s gone from simply “lights off” to taking measurable, meaningful actions.

Every year has a special theme related to climate change. For 2015, the focus is on the power each and every one of us has to make a difference. So, as tempting as it might be to just turn off your lights, light a few candles, and sing “We Shall Overcome,” we offer instead ideas for ten actions you or anyone can take that can have a real impact.

1) Change out 5 light bulbs for LEDs. If you’ve been thinking about changing your light bulbs but haven’t gotten around to it, doing it during Earth Hour could be the perfect time. EPA recommends switching out the light bulbs you use the most: the ones in the kitchen, bathroom, porch, and probably two in the living room. Every hardware store sells LEDs, which stands for light emitting diodes. LEDs will cost a little more, but some of them last a decade or more, and they use just a fraction of the energy a regular incandescent bulb uses, so you will make up the purchase price with savings on your electricity bill.

2) Plug your electronics into a power strip. Our computers, fax machines, printers, chargers and televisions use 40% of their power when they’re turned off but still plugged in to an electrical outlet. You can save all this energy by plugging them into an energy-saving powerstrip instead. Be sure to turn off the entire powerstrip when not in use for longer periods of time.

3) Adjust your thermostat. Not just for one hour, but as a matter of course, adjust your thermostat down a couple of degrees if you’re heating, and up a few degrees if you’re cooling, to save electricity or gas, depending on what you use to heat. If you do this every night before you go to bed, you’ll save money on your heating and cooling bills over the long-term.

4) Install a programmable thermostat. You can make it easy to adjust your thermostat by installing a programmable thermostat that will make the adjustments for you automatically. Again, order online or purchase at a place like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

5) Tune up your bicycle. Biking is a great way to save energy and still get where you want to go, especially when distances are short. Use Earth Hour to tune up your bike: pump up the tires, oil the chain, check the gears, and rub away any rust that may have accumulated over winter. Then, install a basket on the front handle bars or some panniers on the back so you can carry groceries or your briefcase.

6) Organize a potluck supper to discuss energy-saving ideas with your friends and neighbors. Climate change is too big a problem for any one of us to solve on our own. But working together, we can make a big difference. Invite a group of friends to a potluck to brainstorm activities that would matter in your community.

7) Research the benefits of going solar. Many solar energy companies – like NRG Home Solar, Solar City, and Solar Power Now – help homeowners figure out whether solar makes sense for their homes and if so, how to finance it. Visit solar company websites and learn more about this money- and power-saving technology.

8) Research the benefits of getting a hybrid or electric car, or joining a leasing program like Car2Go or Zip Car. Are you in the market for a new vehicle? Figure out whether a hybrid or fully electric vehicle would work for you. Or take a closer look – maybe you could get along without your own car, but using Car2Go, Zip Car, Uber, and other car sharing options.

9) Clean out your closets and attic. All of our “stuff” contains embedded energy that can live as long as our stuff does. Use Earth Hour to pull out items you don’t use any more but that someone else could, saving that person from having to buy new and helping to put the brakes on consumption.

10) Write to your elected officials. As important as our independent and collective actions our, the kind of global change we need will have be driven by new laws that require companies as well as citizens to use non-polluting sources of energy like solar and wind, and to save energy wherever and whenever we can. Use Earth Hour to research where your mayor, city and county council representatives, and Members of Congress stand on climate change and energy policy. Use your power as a voter to encourage them to pass laws and regulations that will advance clean energy and help stop climate change.

45 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

thanks.

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Veerle D.
Veerle D4 years ago

Earth hour starts here in about an hour... some of us will be spending it walking in a nature reserve in the dark, so no lights on.

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MJ J.
Past Member 4 years ago

I hope a few more people look into electric bicycles. There are NOT inexpensive, but there are some that fold up for storage, they DON'T have to be licensed like a car (by federal law if you live in the US), and they can be used for commuting if you have a bike lane (or shopping, running errands, visiting). The speed depends on whether or not the rider pedals and the weight of the rider, but 20 mph is the top speed allowed w/o pedaling. Again, by federal law, if you live in the U.S., they can be ridden wherever a regular bicycle can be ridden.
I'd recommend making sure you have a safe place to tether one when you are away from it, someplace it will not be stolen.

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Dimitris Dallis
Past Member 4 years ago

To be honest, I was expecting something more inspiring, but some ideas are good.
Thank you :)

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Teresa W.
Teresa W4 years ago

LEDs are horrible. I don't think I want to be blinded by them.

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

Good ideas but you should print the specific date and time!

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Julia Oleynik
Julia Oleynik4 years ago

Thank you for ideas to spend such a great event :)

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Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Helping ourselves and our homeland is never difficult

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Dina Mattas
Dina Mattas4 years ago

Don't mean to be rude, but after reading some of the comments I think a more detailed explanation of what Earth Hour is about & why it's a global problem that everyone should be concerned & involved in.

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