Earth Day 2009

Solar powerToday is Earth Day. There are many things we can do to be good caretakers of this planet and to be ever more aware of the impact human activity has on the environment. It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of how much electricity I waste in a typical day. With all our appliances, computers, and lights left on and unattended during the day, electricity simply escapes into the ether and is never recouped.

According to Energy Information Administration, the government’s official energy record-keeping office, the average American home uses about 936 kilowatthours (kWh) in 2007. At home, refrigerators are biggest consumers of electricity (about 14 percent of that 936 kWh).There are calculators that estimate how much electricity you use in a typical day. And if you want to measure exactly how much electricity household appliances use, this little gadget does the trick. But one has to wonder whether this device itself would eat up a lot of electricity.

For myself, the largest amount of electricity I use is lighting. Because I’m a night owl, having lights on for long periods of time late into the evening and the morning hours really adds up financially and also contributes to waste. Switching to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) certainly saves energy. I’ve also switched to LED lights for my reading light. Granted, these lights are pricier to purchase, but the initial investment is well worth the reduced footprint on the environment, power production and waste.

One way to reduce impact on electricity production is to go off the power grid. My friend Rob sent me some cool information about installing solar panels for my house. A simple 2 kilowatt solar panel system will save about 191 kWh per month and reduce about 3,300 pounds of carbon dioxide. This is also the equivalent of planting of about 1 acre of trees. Of course there are some caveats: such system works well in sunny geographic areas. And the system is not cheap. After rebates and tax incentives, an 2 kilowatt solar panel system costs around $10,000. Again, the question we need to ask: is such investment worthwhile in light of the reduced impact and footprint on the environment?

How are you celebrating this Earth Day?


2 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. Clarence

    I tend to keep my computer on for days and days. Sometimes doing some maintenance on it but most of the time, nothing at all. I think turning off our computers saves alot of energy. I’m going to start that soon :). Thank you for the info about solar panels, that’s awesome!

    May 07, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  2. Hiroyuki

    This is good news. Yes, the panels of today might not be very eeifcifnt. However, as it is being use more often in many homes or countries, there will be a continuous development making it more eeifcifnt than what they are today.Take for instance computers, in the 60s computers were as big as a house while performing very slow. Look at computers today, they’re thin, portable, every eeifcifnt and extremely fast.I see solar energy development in the same way.

    Sep 17, 2015 @ 1:15 pm


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