Column: Saving electricity, one hour at a time

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on March 28, 2009

The electrical safety spokesperson in my hometown of Evansville, Ind., was a giant, somewhat freakish cartoon lightning bug named Louie who would warn of the dangers of playing near power lines or sticking metal objects in electrical outlets.

And while I kept his warnings close to heart and my fingers far away from things that could shock me, another equally important lesson was missed.

We’re taught as children to be careful around electricity, but less often are we told to be careful with the amount of electricity we use.

As we get older, though, we quickly realize how important conserving energy is – both for the environment and our pocketbooks.

In that vein, we all are being urged to turn off our lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday as part of the World Wildlife Fund’s 2009 Earth Hour. Hundreds of millions of people around the world will be participating, and I hope many in the our area will, as well.

One of the places you can participate from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday is on the Batavia Riverwalk at Houston Street and Island Avenue in Batavia. The Fox Valley Astronomical Society will be giving a presentation on star gazing, something I very much enjoy doing even if I make up most of the constellations when pointing them out to my wife.

Earth Hour is something I’m happy to participate in, mostly to relieve some of my guilt.

You see, even though I’m working to get better, I’m terrible at wasting electricity. At times in my home office, I will have my computer, TV and CD player all on at the same time. It is not humanly possible for me to pay attention to all three at once, and yet there they all are blaring away. My wife will walk into the cacophony of sound, shake her head and walk back out.

I can’t blame her.

But we are both trying to do our part. We’ve instituted quiet Mondays, in which we don’t turn on any of our TVs or computers and play a board game instead, usually Scrabble (which I always win) or Trivial Pursuit (which she bests me at).

Sure, the TVs, computers and CD players come right back on the next night, but we figure one day a week is better than none. And maybe next year we’ll add quiet Tuesdays, as well.

I know Louie the Lightning Bug would approve, especially if we stay away from power lines at the same time.

Editor’s notes:

Bass fishing coming to a sectional near you: Sports reporter Kevin Druley has a great article in today’s sports section about Illinois becoming the first state to offer bass fishing as a competitive high school sport. Even though I have never caught a fish in my life – despite repeated fishing trips as a youngster – I am all for this. The more opportunities we give students to try and excel in one activity or another, the better our collective future will be.

Election goodness: We asked, and many local candidates answered. We posed five questions to candidates in contested races, and you can see their answers by clicking on the Election 2009 button on the top right side of our Web site at A special shout-out needs to be given to the candidates for township assessor, all of whom returned our questionnaire.

Election preview season: We have a full line-up of election previews for you next week, including the rest of the referendums, village president races, aldermanic races, trustee races, township races, school board races, and library board races. Yes, that’s a lot of races.

Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. You can write to him at or call him at 630-845-5368.


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