Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mike Holmes on Earth Hour

Yesterday on March 29, Earth Hour was officially observed by people across the US and Canada. In Las Vegas, where I live, they even dimmed the lights on the Las Vegas Strip. The purpose of Earth Hour, which is organized by the World Wildlife Fund, is to "encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the last Saturday in March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet." Regardless of your personal thoughts and leanings on "global warming" or "climate change," conservation and the responsible use of our resources not only makes good sense, but also saves good cents. Hopefully, this symbolic gesture of turning out the lights for an hour will encourage conservation year round.

In support of the World Wildlife Fund, and to raise awareness of cleaner and renewable energy sources, Mike Holmes has been working very hard these last couple of weeks to promote Earth Hour. He's teamed up with solar company Pure Energies to encourage people to learn more about going solar, even stating that if 5000 people signed up to learn more, he would donate $5000 to the WWF (see Mike's Earth Hour Challenge for more details). Mike (with a little bit of help from his Holmes Makes It Right crew) has also put out a series of short videos which could be collectively nicknamed "What to do during Earth Hour," or perhaps "Fun With the Lights Off." The videos portray the crew telling contractor horror stories, toasting marshmallows, and playing hide-and-seek, all in the dark. The point was to encourage people to make the most out of the darkness and have a little fun at the same time. Take a look at these "#momentofdarkness" videos:

Also, check out this great article Mike wrote for the Montreal Gazette:

Mike Holmes: Earth Hour – here comes the light

 By Mike Holmes, For Postmedia News March 28, 2014

After a decade, Mike Holmes still cares because he knows the work he, his crew and others do makes a real difference to the people they help.

Photograph by: Alex Schuldt/The Holmes Group, Postmedia News

This year, Earth Hour is on March 29. I know I’ll be flicking off, and I’m counting on millions of Canadians to flick off, too!
With every passing year, Earth Hour gets bigger — more organizations and countries participate, more people get involved and the stakes get higher. This is great because it means we’re taking bigger steps toward building a sustainable future.
Earth Hour has become the largest mass participation event in history. What does that tell you? That people care about the planet and climate change and that they’re willing to do something about it.
A lot of us want to build a sustainable future, and thankfully, it’s not just people stepping up to the plate. Governments are, too. Proper programs are being developed that support homeowners as they try to make their homes more green and energy efficient. For example, solar leasing is a good way to start weaning homes off non-renewable energy. Using solar energy to power your home is smart, but the initial investment is beyond what most households can afford — solar electric systems aren’t cheap. Upfront costs include solar panels, installation and any changes or upgrades that need to be made to the home so these systems can be properly (and safely) installed.
Once everything is said and done, the total cost of adding a solar electric system to your home can be anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000.
Instead of putting this money in yourself, out of pocket, a solar leasing program can cover the cost of installation, operation and maintenance of the solar power system for you. This is done through companies or organizations, such as Pure Energies, that work with local governments to make it financially easier for homeowners to install solar energy systems.
The way that most solar leasing programs work is that the energy generated by the solar panels on a home feed into the electric grid, and the homeowner gets a credit for that energy. So any time the household uses electricity, it doesn’t pay for the amount of energy that the panels have already contributed to the power grid.
The great thing about solar leasing is the security. Homeowners never have to worry about not having enough electricity. Solar panels can’t generate electricity when it’s cloudy or at night. But with solar leasing, households pull energy from the power grid while feeding it with solar power.
Solar leasing also saves homeowners the trouble of maintaining or repairing the system — solar experts check and monitor the system for them. Plus some companies, such as Pure Energies will also monitor other systems in the home that affect energy efficiency. For example, they will check a home’s HVAC system to make sure it’s working efficiently, given the weather conditions and temperature.
Another great initiative is financing for energy-efficient home renovations or retrofits. This helps homeowners replace bad windows, add insulation or replace an old inefficient furnace.
Toronto recently launched a new pilot project called the Home Energy Loan Program, which means 1,000 homes will be retrofitted over the next three years to make them more energy and water efficient. Homeowners will still need to pay the loan back — in instalments on their tax bill — but they will be saving money monthly, thanks to lower energy bills, and helping reduce their carbon footprint.
Programs such as HELP have another big impact: They educate. They get homeowners to start thinking about the long term — the stuff that will make their homes last longer, save energy, save water, save money, and ultimately, save the planet.
They put the focus back on making homes better — not just better looking, which often just creates more waste. It motivates people to care about things like a subfloor system that will keep their basement warm and dry, rather than just worry about the flooring that goes on top; or the best kind of insulation instead of getting the cheapest.
These programs change peoples’ thinking, which changes the future. I hear a lot of moaning and groaning about the costs of green initiatives but that’s short-term thinking. Building and renovating right is not just about today — it’s about tomorrow and the things you’re willing to do to make it right.
Earth Hour might be an hour of darkness but it brings a lot of light when it comes to building a sustainable future.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit

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