Happy Earth Hour!
Every year, for one hour in March, we shut everything down to remind ourselves to reduce our consumption in an effort to promote sustainability on our planet.
With technology increasingly engrained in our lives, we tend to forget the impact that each little device has in terms of electricity consumption. With that, let’s focus on the small things that we can all do to reduce the amount that these gadgets use.
Wash dishes with a full load
While we may all be too busy to do the dishes in the first place, if you own a dishwasher, it is better to wait until you have a full load inside to run it. A full dishwasher cleans most efficiently. This habit provides the added bonus of needing to empty the dishwasher less often!
And for those of us who don’t own a fancy, new-age dishwasher, we can cut down on our water consumption when washing dishes by hand by not leaving the water on at all times.
Unplug your devices
We often forget that our devices draw power when they’re not in use. It only takes a few seconds to unplug and it takes loads off our eco-conscience.
As an added measure, make sure to buy gadgets with an Energy Star® rating, as they run more efficiently. Even better, if you don’t really need it, you may be better going without the gadget all together. And for those of us who have older or broken items lying around, the University of Alberta recycles a variety of electronics, and there are local charities who also take donations.
Turn off the lights!
Here’s another thing we always forget–to turn off the lights when we’re done in a room. Once again, a small thing that takes no time.
And when our light bulbs burn out, buying more energy efficient ones is a smart, long-term, sustainable investment. Take a trip to a hardware store to find a pleasantly bright bulb with a low power rating. LEDs are currently the most efficient as they use 25-30 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, while lasting 8 to 25 times longer, which more than makes up for the increased upfront cost.
Turn down the brightness of our devices
This is one that benefits not only the environment but also ourselves. Often our laptop and phones screens are on maximum intensity, which can cause eyestrain, not to mention the screen drains the battery on cell phones the fastest.
Start by turning down the brightness to help reduce eyestrain and save battery life. If your eyes are still getting tired, it is a good idea to give them some exercise by looking at something in the distance for a few minutes.
Incidentally, for those of us who stare at our devices late at night, a nighttime screen app like F.Lux can help reduce eyestrain by making the screen more yellow. This works because the blue light of our standard screens keep us awake and makes it harder to get a good night’s rest.
Get a power bar
Ever wonder why plugs only have two sockets when you have five different things that need to be powered? Power bars are amazing at solving those problems, plus they make it way easier to save electricity because you can turn the whole bar off at once without ripping five cords out of the wall at the same time.
That concludes a few ways to save energy in our current technology-driven society. For this year’s Earth Hour, let’s all unplug, turn off all of these devices, disconnect from social media and get back in touch with ourselves and the real world. The internet can wait, and so can your status update! 🙂
Happy Earth Hour!
About The Author
Bertie Chen is a Campus Sustainability Volunteer and in her fourth year of electrical engineering at the University of Alberta. Sustainability is a big focus for her, as she hopes to work in a renewable field such as solar or wind energy in the future, and advocates energy saving initiatives for everyone.