Here’s what you can do for Earth Hour 2014

What can you do for Earth Hour 2014? (Photo courtesy of WWF Singapore)

Singapore switches off its lights on Saturday 29 March at 8:30pm for its sixth Earth Hour. Here are four things you can do to help our country reduce its  carbon footprint:

Turn your air-conditioning up by one degree

One of the key contributors to a household’s total electricity consumption, air conditioning can take up a third of one’s electricity bill, and up to 60 per cent of a building’s energy consumption.

The recommended temperature for home air-conditioning is 24 degrees Celsius, while for commercial buildings, it is between 23 and 25 degrees.

With each degree increment in air conditioner temperature, you can shave at least $25 off your electricity bill annually. That’s $150 million a year in savings, when extrapolated across our population.

Additionally, just to put this into perspective, one air conditioner uses up the same amount of energy as 32 fans.

Switch to LED lighting

Compared to traditional filament and fluorescent bulbs, LEDs produce significantly more brightness per watt, hence using up less energy.

They also last exponentially longer than regular bulbs, hence cutting on maintenance costs too, and because they produce more brightness than regular bulbs per watt, they also generate much less heat.

They’re also less harmful — because LED lights are mercury-free, they don’t emit ultraviolet rays or other harmful gases. They’re also much more durable than filament or fluorescent bulbs.

Use fewer plastic bags

A hefty 3 billion plastic bags were used in Singapore in 2011, and these were made with 37 million kg of crude oil and 12 million kg of natural gas.

Globally, more than a trillion plastic bags are used each year, less than 2 per cent of which are recycled. The other 98 per cent ends up in landfills, where they take up to 1,000 years to break down.

Chemicals that are added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies, with some compounds having been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects. Plastic debris can also injure or poison wildlife, while plastic that is buried in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that seep into groundwater.

Take shorter showers

According to the Public Utilities Board, households in Singapore consume some 770 million litres of water. This amount can fill 307 Olympic-sized swimming pools or 513 million 1.5-litre sized bottles.

Nearly half of the water used in Singapore homes is used in showers and kitchen sink-washing. Showers also take up roughly a third of an average family’s monthly water consumption.

With each minute that you shave off your shower routine, you can save about 9 litres of water.

WWF Singapore, the organisers of Earth Hour, invite you to take pledges to commit yourself to take one or more of these four actions — to save yourself money, and also to help our environment last that little longer.

Find out more about what Singapore is doing for this year’s Earth Hour here, and find out what the stars of “The Amazing Spider-Man” have to do with Earth Hour here.