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Lynne Plambeck: Give Earth Day a shot

Posted: April 8, 2009 11:41 p.m.
Updated: April 9, 2009 4:30 a.m.
It’s spring, and flowers aren’t the only things in bloom. Solar panels and new ideas about how to make or save energy are blossoming everywhere.

SCV Off the Grid, an organization that promotes solar for homeowners associations, is developing quite a following. Perhaps homeowners groups will take the plunge and we will soon see panels on recreation-room roofs across the valley.

JC Penney has just finished installation of solar panels on its roof as part of a nationwide test of efficiency. Costco is in the middle of a similar evaluation.

General Motors is coming out with a new round-about-town putt-putt. It’s all-electric and must stay on streets where speed limits are less than 35 miles per hour. Perfect for grocery shopping.

A neighbor just bought a new hybrid that gets considerably improved mileage over his old SUV. When a friend’s old water heater began leaking, he replaced it with a new “on-demand” water heater. This system heats water as it passes through the pipe and only turns on when the hot water spigot is opened. Now he has more space in his garage where the tank used to be as well as a lower monthly payment. The new system cut his natural gas bill in half.

Other friends put all their electronics on a power strip and switch them completely off rather than just turning off the TV. No twinkling LEDS in the living room from the unused DVD player. This translated to about a 5-percent savings in electricity. Small potatoes if it is just a matter of saving a few dollars, but it isn’t. If everyone did this, the energy savings would be huge.

Turning out the lights when you leave the room is easy, too. Didn’t your dad tell you that? You might want to attend this tonight’s “Movies to Talk About” at Vincenzo’s Pizza on Lyons Avenue, starting at 7 p.m. It will include a discussion about how you and your friends can form a “carbon ring” to encourage your new low-carbon diet.

On March 28, lights across the world dimmed for “Earth Hour.” This demonstration, started in Australia in 2007, aimed at dimming iconic symbols throughout major population centers as well as indiviual household lights. It brought attention to just how much energy we use in the world for aestheic, nonessential lighting and encouraged everyone to conserve.

New, efficient uses of energy and conservation not only help reduce our monthly utility bills. They will help restore salmon runs by allowing more water to remain in rivers rather than being used for energy generation. They will result in cleaner air because less coal or high-sulphur fuel oil will be burned to generate electricity. We will all see more blue sky and be able to breathe more easily.

As we enter a time when we must re-evaluate our priorities, some simple changes will make our community a better place. Our grandparents came out of the Depression of the 1930s with the maxim “Waste not, want not.” It is still certainly true today. We only need to rediscover it.

So, as we celebrate the religious holidays of rebirth and renewal and spring is all around us in glorious green, I hope we humans, too, can blossom in new directions. There is so much we need to do.

Earth Day is just around the corner. Perhaps you and your family will make an Earth Day resolution to reduce energy use in your household. Why not give it a try?

Lynne Plambeck is president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) and a Santa Clarita resident. “Environmentally Speaking” appears Thursdays in The Signal and rotates among local environmentalists. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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