Earth Matters

Earth Hour – Let it be a Lesson in the Value of Energy

This Saturday March 23 from 8:30 to 9:30 pm is Earth Hour
2013 marks the 7th year that people from countries all around the world will go 1 hour without lights to send the message that action is required to protect the environment.
Like me, you may find yourself asking what is the point in participating? 1 hour’s worth of energy savings would have very little impact in reducing Toronto’s annual energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.  According to the Toronto Star, Toronto’s highest participation was in 2009 when we saw a 15% reduction in electricity. Since then our city’s participation in the event has declined, suggesting that Torontonians won’t be as likely to participate this year.  One blogger even suggested participating in Earth Hour is like not eating for an hour to protest against the result of using a toilet.
But perhaps there is more to be gained from an hour of not using lights then a bit of energy savings. If we stop for 1 hour and think about how much we take electricity for granted we may learn a little about the value of energy.
We often strive to teach our kids the value of money. We take them to the bank to open their own account,  even let them help pay the credit card bills. There are a lot of lessons that teach us not to take money for granted, but there are many other things we often take for granted in our modern society like food, technology and the energy that affords us our modern lifestyles.
Why not treat Earth Hour 2013 as an exercise in learning the value of energy. As we turn off lights and power down appliances for just one hour we are reminded of exactly just how much we rely on electricity to live our daily lives. Challenge yourself and your family to use as little electricity as possible, turn off lights, make a meal that doesn’t require cooking such as salad or sandwiches, turn off your technological toys such as TVs, phones, hand held games and use this moment of darkness to reflect and remember that the energy we use is not free, that it comes from natural nonrenewable resources and that we shouldn’t waste it.
Earth Hour also demonstrates that many small actions have the power to make a difference. If we all unite across the globe to make little changes (day to day) to save energy we could make a big difference.
So challenge yourself to make small changes:
  • Take the stairs a few floors when you would normally take the elevator
  • Plan your meals so as to not let food go bad in your refrigerator
  • Wash clothes and bath towels only when they are dirty instead of after each use
  • Plan your errands so as to reduce the number of car trips
  • Take the bus a couple times a month
  • Turn Off Lights when you leave the room!

Join others around the globe in the “I Will If You Will” campaign who are challenging each other to take positive action for the environment beyond Earth Hour and Dare the World to change.

About the author


Laura Berndt

Laura Berndt (Hough) is the Manager of Energy & Sustainability in Plant Operations at Sunnybrook.


  • Such a good point! Teaching our kids about energy the way we teach them about money. And what better opportunity to bring awareness back to how much we rely on energy, something we should try to remember the whole rest of the year. A great arguement for the benefits of Earth Hour!