Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feeling Lethargic Every Day Isn't My Only Energy Problem!

I'm just kidding, I don't feel completely lethargic every day, but enough to make the title of this blog funny, I would say. Anyway, energy, something I like to have. Who knew that using all of these electrical appliances was destroying the environment and costing tons of money? Maybe that's a naive rhetorical question, but here we go, a rundown of my electrical day, followed by my gas usage:

Note: I only accounted for electricity that was directly affecting me as trying to keep up with every usage of the electronics by my parents seemed impractical and impossible.

October 19, 3:00 PM: Checked the watt hours on the meter on the side of the house. Watt hours = 12,351

Also around 3:00 PM: I had my bedroom light, my fan, alarm clock, and TV on. As a result of the awareness gained instantly from this exercise, I unplugged my cell phone charger. However, I used my camera battery charger.

Shortly after 3:00: I used the rest room. I turned off the fan, light, and TV in my bedroom and turned on the light in the rest room. I noticed that there was a night light and air freshener that my mom had put in the bathroom, which are undoubtedly using electricity 24/7.

3:10: I turned off the bathroom light and turned on my room light, fan, TV, and computer.

3:25: Turned off computer.

3:50: Turned on computer.

4:15: I unplugged the camera battery charger.

5:10: I Turned off the computer.

6:00: I turned off everything in my bedroom and went running.

6:20: I came back from my run and took a shower, which required that I have the bathroom light on, and I used some hot water. Maybe I could shower in the dark, when the sun is out.

6:30: Used the microwave for 3o seconds to defrost bread for a sandwich I ate.

6:35: I turned on my computer, fan, light, and TV.

7:20: I turned off the fan, light, and TV in my room, but left my computer on. I went to the bathroom and turned on the light for 1 minute. I went out into the living room with my parents to eat dinner and watched our big screen TV for 20 minutes.

7:40: I went back into my room and put my light, fan, and TV back on.

8:50: I once again turned off the computer.

9:30: I turned the computer back on again.

10:15: I turned off the computer.

11:15: I used the rest room, and had the light on for about 5 minutes.

11:25: Big surprise...I turned on my computer.

12:40: I turned off the computer (it's true).

1:15: I plugged my cell phone charger in.

1:20: I turned on the bathroom light to brush my teeth.

1:25: Turned off bathroom light and I turned off the light in my bedroom so I could go to bed.

2:30: Turned on the light in the bathroom for 1 minute, then turned off the TV in my room.

October 20, 11:15 AM: I woke up, my fan and alarm clock were on all night. I went to the restroom, and turned on the light for 2 minutes. Then I turned off the fan in my room, because I thought it was cold in my room. I turned on the TV and light.

11:25: I turned off the light and TV in my room. I took a shower with hot water, and the bathroom light was on for approximately 10 minutes.

11:45: I went to Edison Community College to go tutor.

I did not return home until 5:30 PM and the meter now read:

12, 404 WATT HOURS!

No bueno. In addition to having my alarm clock on all day everyday, my home does have air conditioning, which seems to come on at least every hour. There were also those plug-ins in my bathroom. Oftentimes I forget to unplug my cell phone charger, but I have been trying to be better about that. I always have my fan on all night. Of course, sometimes I do laundry, and my parents use much electricity as well.

I learned that my electric company is the Lee County Electric Cooperative. Going to this link in the "About Us" section of their site - http://www.lcec.net/aboutus/images/Our%20Wholesale%20Energy%20Supplier.pdf - showed me that the electricity they serve is from the wholesale supplier Seminole. This site explains that their energy is powered by coal. Only a small fraction, 4%, is from alternative energy sources, however they are able to sell the waste to wallboard manufacturers.

Now for an evaluation of my gas energy usage:
A typical Wednesday at Florida Gulf Coast University involves driving there and back to my house, plus the occasional run to a gas station in between my classes, which is what I did on the Wednesday that I recorded my mileage. I had no passengers in my car, and usually do not. Only from doing the things I just mentioned resulted in me driving 53.2 MILES! A lot more miles than I expected.

My car, a 2004 Hyundai Sonata, has just a little over 84,000 miles on it right now, and it was purchased around this time in 2003, therefore, I drive approximately 14,000 miles a year. Which is a little less than I expected.

Looking at my car's energy score at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/, I found that my car emits 9.5 tons of carbon per year, when I plug in my annual miles data. It also had a 2 on a scale of ten of an air pollution score. It uses approximately 17.7 barrels of oil in a given year.

Dividing the 9.5 tons of carbon per year by 365 days gives me an average of 0.026 tons, which I believe translates into 52 pounds of carbon, if one assumes that the website was using the United States ton of 2000 lbs. That's practically a pound of carbon per gallon! If not more.

Final Thoughts
I think I did pretty poorly on electricity and gas usage. Not only does my household use a lot of electricity, but it is supplied by a coal power plant. I don't know what the other company, Florida Power and Light is offering, but I don't like it. Furthermore, I was very disappointed with my car's emissions. I thought that Hyundai's were supposed to have good fuel economy and be at least better than average on emissions and the like, but this was not the case.

I don't know what to do about these problems either, they're tough to curb greatly. I'm continuing to turn electric appliances off when not in use, but any major actions that could be taken will probably cost a fair amount of money up front. The same thing goes for my car. I've been very thankful for the fact that I finally paid off my car last month, and I didn't want to get a new car very soon, so that I could save up. So I may be keeping this carbon machine a little longer. Also, I know that living closer to FGCU and my job at the airport would be beneficial, but again cost comes into play. Assuming I spend $2000 on gas per year, living in an apartment instead of with my parents will cost me close to $6000, if I were able to only pay $500 a month. From the ecological footprint exercise in the related blog posting, living separately could possibly be less efficient environmentally as well.

Tough problems. And if I'm having these types of problems with my relatively simple lifestyle, the rest of the industrialized world is in big trouble!

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