HARRISBURG – By simply turning off non-essential lighting in homes and businesses for a period of one hour this weekend, Environmental Protection acting Secretary John Hanger says Pennsylvanians can participate in one of the largest climate events in history.
Earth Hour is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) symbolic attempt to raise awareness that wasting energy also wastes money and impacts the environment. Participants are asked to turn off unused lights in their homes and businesses from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28.
“This Saturday evening, participants may learn just how wasteful unnecessary energy consumption really is,” Hanger said. “An act so simple may not seem like much, but when multiplied millions of times over, it really can make a difference.”
Earth Hour originated in Australia in 2007. WWF expanded the event globally in 2008 when an estimated tens of millions participated. This year the goal is more than one billion participants worldwide.
Hanger said participating in Earth Hour is just a first step. He encouraged all Pennsylvanians to expand conservation efforts by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.
Hanger said making these improvements now is important for households to avoid the full impact of rising energy costs, especially as the remaining caps on electricity rates expire over the next two years. Governor Edward G. Rendell recently showed his commitment by making it easier for Pennsylvanians to increase the energy efficiency of their homes through the $17 million Keystone HELP Home Energy Loan and Rebate Program. The program was made possible by the $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund legislation he signed in July.
Under the program, the Department of Environmental Protection will provide $3.5 million to reduce the interest rates on nearly $16 million in low-interest loans, as well as $1 million for rebates to insulate homes and install high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and ENERGY STAR-qualified windows and doors.
The loan capital is provided by DEP, the state Treasury Department and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority. “Perhaps changing habits for one hour this weekend will lead to two or three hours next week,” Hanger said. “That simple start may eventually lead to families reducing their costs by using less energy, and to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes. Those are changes that will benefit the individual families and the entire population as well.”