Energy Literacy part One: Energy is invisible


18 Responses to “Energy Literacy part One: Energy is invisible”

  1. Brainspore says:

    If only Tesla had his way then energy wouldn’t be invisible… we’d have totally awesome lightning bolts EVERYWHERE!

  2. Bilsko says:

    The paragraph about the 1GW coal plant and the amount of avoided energy consumption needed to offset the building of a coal plant is a bit of an oversimplification, but in all its a pretty useful illustration of the benefits of energy efficiency.
    To make the calculation a bit more accurate, you may want to take into account the line losses associated with the delivery of that 1GW of power to consumers (over Transmission and Distribution wires). Line losses vary, but are typically in the 8-10% range. So in order to deliver 1GW of electricity, the plant actually has to produce about 1.1GW. The other way to look at that is that only 900,000,000 people need to reduce consumption by 1W (instead of a full billion).
    In the context of such large numbers anyways, 10% may not seem like much, but increasing the size of a power plants output by 100MW is not a trivial matter either in terms of cost or emissions.

  3. Von Haus says:

    So 1 billion people giving up a light for 1 hour a day will cancel 1 power-plant. That would mean that the whole population of the earth (6.7 billion) giving up a light for a whole day will only prevent the need for 160 coal fired power plants. Now if only I could find the figures for how many coal fired powerplants there are in the world, this would mean a lot more.

    nutbastard – to pick the first hole that comes to mind, that data doesn’t seem to take in to account that a lot of the existing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere actually provide useful benefits, and that it is the increase that is causing problems. Is it suprising that the combined green house gases in the entire atmosphere is far greater than the ones we have added to it. No. Does that relate to the effect caused by what we are doing. No.

  4. Anonymous says:

    don’t forget viktor schauberger and all the others over at rexresearch.
    energy wants to be free and clean, global warming is bunk! can you say tax scam?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve just invested in an induction hob a new frontier for me
    there are remarkable value gained in how I boil water
    let alone how and what type of food I prepare
    for example it takes 50% less time now to cook rice


  6. TypoBoy says:

    >1 watt ( About what is required to keep a compact fluorescent burning for just 1 hour a day),

    I bet you intend to say ten watts, and might want to correct the typo. Alternatively, you might let me know who sells those 1 watt compact fluorescents.

  7. The Life Of Bryan says:

    Here’s what I’ve done to make my energy visible: I don’t drive my car anymore. It’s a nice car, a ’91 Nissan 240sx. Very fun car, especially with rear wheel drive, four wheel steering, and a kickin’ stereo system. Ya want it? Check my local craigslist when I get around to cleaning it up and selling it.

    Instead I ride my bike(s). Constantly. Incessantly. To the tune of 4029 miles so far this year. (But hey, who‘s counting, right?)

    I tell you this, it has given me perspective on power. Speed and distance, too. I estimate that when I go to work in the morning, I’m putting out 150+ watts for about seventeen minutes. Five miles are short enough that I can do it without breakfast some days, but it moves my hunger point up by two hours. When I do thirty or more miles I need a solid meal within three hours beforehand and additional sugars within twenty miles.

    Now, to convert these power numbers, which I feel oh so acutely, over to kWh, that’s just humbling. I keep a pair of grow lights pointing at the cinder blocks to the left of my desk so the windowless office doesn’t kill me and/or my coworkers. The combined mileage of a round trip to work and a ten to fifteen mile grocery run later in the evening doesn’t represent enough energy to keep those bulbs lit past lunchtime… which was two hours early today because I skipped breakfast.

  8. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Energy is invisible because it does not physically exist.

    Gasoline exists, and electricity (sort of) exists, and heat (sort of) exists, and you can conveniently do theoretical work involving an arbitrarily designated common characteristic of these by postulating a synthetic attribute and assigning it unit values that are useful for your work.

    Energy is like truth; it has agreed-upon values, but it has no physical existence without embodiment in some other discrete physicality.

    I’m probably not expressing this well.

    Ed Abbey said, in reply to Plato, “I seen a horse, and I seen a cow, but I ain’t seen none of this here horsiness nor bovinity neither”.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please learn the difference between a watt and a watt-hr. You can’t “save” watts any more than you can “save” miles per hour. You can reduce your demand by a watt, which will save 24 watt-hrs per day.

    • SamSam says:

      @Anon: No one said that anyone would “save” a watt, so I don’t know where the quotation marks come from.

      Rather, the article discusses reducing your power needs by a watt (in the same way that switching from a 60W bulb to a 12W bulb reduces your power needs by 48 watts), and someone else in the comments mentioned saving some number of kWH, which, as a measure of energy, can certainly be saved.

      Who were you talking to anyway?

  10. jphilby says:

    The article starts out unconvincing because it fails to demonstrate basic energy literacy. Watts are units of power, an instantaneous quantity.

    Electrical energy consumption is measured in average kilowatts of power multiplied by hours it is consumed. 100 watts x 5 hours = 500 watt-hours = 0.5 kilowatt-hours.

    A wall-wart, or string of Xmas lights, consuming 5 watts for 24 hours will consume 120 wH or 0.12 kWh … the same amount of energy as a 1000-watt toaster used for 7.2 minutes.

    A compact fluorescent using 15 watts for an hour will consume 0.015 kWh … not “1 watt” as the article states.

    If one person decreases their average power use by 1 watt, they’ll save 0.024 kWh per day. If 1 billion people do this, they’ll save about 24 million kWh per day.

    The average American home consumed about 9000 kWh in the year 2000. That one day of a billion people saving 1 watt would power 2,600 American homes for a year. And a helluva lot *more* homes almost everywhere else in the world. (There are one or two countries -even more wasteful- than we are, believe it or not.)

  11. Notary Sojac says:

    So if we could get everyone in the world to cut their energy use by one watt a day we could close down six coal fired plants.

    Building six nuclear plants accomplishes the same amount of CO2 reduction and takes a heckuva lot less persuasion.

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