Written by Chelsea Petersen
This Saturday, at 8:30pm, the majority of the world will plunge into darkness as millions of people turn off their power in a show of solidarity with the movement to protect the planet. What was once a small event in Sydney, Australia, the movement has since sparked support in over 7000 cities all over the world, who now participate in the well-recognised, Earth Hour. Households, businesses, and even landmarks go dark, as a symbol of their commitment to changing the ominous threat of climate change. Earth Hour is a brilliant initiative to raise awareness, and in South Africa, there’s a double meaning in the message that excess use of limited resources cannot be sustained.
Besides the desire to save the world, South Africans have another pressing reason to turn off the power this Saturday. Eskom has come under much scrutiny for its lack of system maintenance that has led to the current power crisis. The use of power going unchecked has left Eskom reeling to rectify the crisis. Adding to its woes was the discovery of the exorbitant amount of unpaid electricity bills from Soweto alone. While load shedding has become less frequent in the past month, the country can still expect the power cuts to continue for the foreseeable future as the system remains constrained. The estimation for cost of load shedding to the South African economy is said to be a staggering R80billion a month, and a few years of these rolling blackouts does not bode well for business at all.
All South Africans are encouraged to participate in Earth Hour, to share in the challenges of creating a sustainable world. And we shouldn’t stop there. We should be striving to save energy wherever possible. This doesn’t have to mean expending much effort or money. We’ve found some simple and easy ways to save energy in your home:
Use CFL (Compact Fluorescent) light bulbs. CFL bulbs use significantly less energy than normal incandescent ones, and can last up to 6 times longer. They are definitely a good investment.
Take showers instead of baths. Showering uses significantly less water than filling a bath tub. This way, your geyser will have to heat up less water and save energy in the process.
Close all blinds and curtains at night. This saves energy by trapping heat inside, so heaters don’t need to be turned on for so long.
Only do your laundry when there is a full load. This avoids wasting water and energy that would be used for several half loads.
Only washing a full load also applies to the dishwasher. It also saves energy by washing less frequently. Also, rather using the dryer function, let your dishes air dry.
Turn off your lights. Always turn off the light when you leave a room. Also, don’t switch all your home lights on at night; only the ones you need.
Switch off computers of turn off the monitor. Desktop computers should, ideally, be switched off when not in use. As an alternative, it also helps to switch of the monitor while it is left unattended.
Use Blackle. Never heard of it? Blackle is an energy saving version of Google. Its background is black and the text is white. Even the small amount of time spent searching helps. This is because, on most computers, it takes more energy to produce the light of a white screen than a black one. It even tells you how many watt hours it has saved.
Unplug chargers. This applies to all devices like cell phones and laptops. Even when not charging anything, they still consume huge amounts of electricity.