Earth Hour is an annual event to encourage environmental awareness, energy efficiency and action on climate change.
You can participate by switching your lights off for one hour. It's typically run in March each year on a Saturday evening.
Switching your lights off for Earth Hour is mostly a symbolic gesture. Lighting is, after all, just one part of our energy problem, and it's only for one hour. Despite this, I think it is a great way to focus attention on our wasteful use of energy.
Earth Hour Photos Sydney
Earth Hour kicked off in Sydney, Australia in 2007.
And I was there to take some photos before and after the lights went out.
Here's what I captured:
The first Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia.
The Earth Hour Story
The idea behind Earth Hour dates back to 2004.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia was looking for a way to engage the community on the topic of climate change. They enlisted the help of advertising agency Leo Burnett for a project which had the working title 'The Big Flick'.
In March 2007 the very first Earth Hour became a reality in Sydney. On that night a good portion of Sydney's residents turned off their lights for one hour.
One year later, Earth Hour became a global movement involving participants in about 35 countries. Melbourne, New York, San Franciso, Rome, London - they've all gone dark for Earth Hour.
My Sydney Earth Hour Photos
As I mentioned, back in 2007, I was in Sydney watching the very first Earth Hour. And I had my camera ready.
In fact, I was ready with my camera three days early. I knew that most building managers would shut down their office lights well before Earth Hour.
Who would want the bad PR of their building accidentally being left on!? So I went to a viewpoint on Sydney Harbour and took some photos of the city at 8 pm on a regular weeknight.
Earth Hour Sydney 'Before Photo'
I returned to the same spot during Earth Hour and took the second photo. I used the same settings on my camera for both pictures. That way the images would not exaggerate or misrepresent what was actually achieved. Unlike other Earth Hour photos, these are a more realistic representation of the 'before and after' effect.
During Earth Hour
Don't forget, it was 2007, so my digital camera didn't capture the greatest images in the low light.
On the other hand, professional photographers sitting around on the evening of Earth Hour taking ‘real-time’ photos didn’t get to see the full effect at all.
My photos were initially picked up by WWF off my friend Adam Searle's blog. I was happy to release them to promote the cause. I was excited to see the pictures printed in a large spread in the Sydney Morning Herald supplement in 2008. I was disappointed, however, to see them incorrectly credited not to me, but to some agency. I should have added a watermark much earlier!
In 2009 and again in 2010 my photos also featured in the official Earth Hour videos. You can see them here in the opening few seconds:
Earth Hour - What's Next?
Earth Hour is an excellent time of year to get motivated to save energy.
As we go into winter here in Australia lighting energy usage goes up significantly, as does heating and hot water.
So here are some straightforward ways you can cut your energy usage well beyond Earth Hour:
- Invest in a power meter and wireless energy monitor to track your electricity usage. You might be surprised which appliances use the most energy. Once you've found the energy hogs, you can begin to take action.
- Upgrade all your lights to energy-saving LED lighting. There are no excuses anymore; you can get an LED version of fluro tubes, light bulbs, floodlights, office lights, and much more. We even sell a wide range of dimmable LED lights and motion sensor lights.
- Next up, start addressing the priority areas of hot water and heating & cooling with more efficient options. But don't stop there. You can also cook using less energy and use timers and controls to cut standby power and more.
If you want to go into much more detail - check out my blog on the top ten causes (and solutions) to high electricity bills.