A Conservation Message for Every Day of the Year
For me, one of the most dramatic Earth Hour events in Ontario occurs when the Niagara Parks Commission turns off the lights that illuminate Niagara Falls (you can find photos on Flickr or YouTube). Seeing one of the natural wonders of the world and a source of our hydroelectric power temporarily darkened reminds me of how dependent we are on electricity. None of us would wish to do without the heating, lighting or other essential services that energy provides, but we need to find ways to deliver these services while doing less harm to the environment.
On March 31st, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., Earth Hour asked citizens in 135 countries of the world to make a symbolic act to raise awareness of environmental sustainability and the need to take action on issues like climate change by turning off their lights. The intent is that we’ll go beyond the single hour, and keep conservation activities going all year. For example, practising conservation in our daily activities by eating sustainable seafood, composting or installing water-efficient appliances will help protect our environment for succeeding generations. Conserving electricity saves you money by avoiding the construction of more generating stations and transmission wires, which adds up to payments we all would otherwise have to make in the future.
An important change happening with electricity is the Ontario government’s decision to build a smart grid, a term that describes a modernized electricity delivery system. It adds a communication network to our existing electricity system so that technologies can work together to help consumers manage their electricity use. It has started with the introduction of smart metres and time-of-use rates. PowerStream and Hydro One have already implemented these for many customers.
The smart grid will allow us to conserve electricity at peak time-of-use hours when demand is high. Manufacturers are now making smart appliances, which can be integrated with operation of the grid. And as more technologies are added, smart homes will become common.
Even with these high-tech changes, there are still simple actions you can take at home, like adding weather-stripping around doors, and regularly cleaning or replacing your furnace filter. I hope you’ll continue with the Earth Day ethos all year, save the environment and save on your energy bills.