Energy Use at Home

Title Post date
What do I (we) do about my (our) carbon footprint? Keywords: Carbon footprint, reduction

A very frequent question asked by students after learning about climate change is "But what can I (we) do about it?". Here are some ideas, all of which have benefits in addition to reducing greenhouse gases, and so are worth considering even if you reject the idea of anthropogenic global warming completely.

Here is a set of suggestions for science students who wish to take action to reduce their own and their family's or community's carbon footprint. Most of the ideas are about education and attitude. We also list three achievable ways of reducing your annual emissions by least a tonne of carbon dioxide.

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5 years 26 weeks ago
Turn the Heat Off! Keywords: energy loss, heat loss, power

Do you save more energy by leaving the heat on at night or by turning it down and reheating the house the next day?

We examine the benefit of turning off the heat when you go out.

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7 years 1 week ago
TriColour LED Flashlight Keywords: activity, battery, breadboard, circuit, colour addition, LED, resistors, switch, tricolour LED

Make your own TriColour LED Flashlight!

This is a straightforward classroom or summer camp activity to teach students simple circuitry and the addition of colours. The students can go home with a useful and energy-efficient flashlight.

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5 years 40 weeks ago
Thermal Radiation Keywords: black body radiation, infrared, thermal radiation

All bodies emit radiation. So why don't we all shine in the dark?

Thermal radiation is a crucial part of our macro and micro environments. Although invisible to the eye it can be measured and imaged.

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6 years 49 weeks ago
Low-E Glass Keywords: emissivity, thermal radiation

How do you tell the difference between low-E and regular glass?

With a cheap IR thermometer, low-E glass can be easily distinguished from the normal variety.

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4 years 37 weeks ago
Light Bulb Efficiency and Hand Crank Energy Generation Keywords: breadboard, circuit, efficiency, electricity generation, energy, energy conversion, Lend an Experiment (LEx), lighting

What does it really take to power a light bulb?

This activity is part of the LEx (Lend an Experiment) Climate Kit. Students compare the power consumption of incandescent and LED bulbs through the use of hand crank generators and a simple circuit. Concepts include the conversion of mechanical to electrical energy, power and efficiency, and measurement estimation. There is an option to also investigate the efficiency of the hand crank generator.

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1 year 35 weeks ago
Home Heating Keywords: conduction, cooling, heat exchange, heat loss, heating

Where are these houses losing the most heat to the environment? The picture on the left is taken with visible light, that on the right is taken with infrared light with a wavelength of about 10 μm.

An example of how to model the heating and cooling of thermal systems, including a look at some of the issues surrounding the heating and cooling of buildings.

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7 years 1 week ago
Heating Efficiency Keywords: efficiency, electric, energy, gas, power

Which is better: gas or electric heat?

Calculating or measuring efficiency means tracking the power all the way from source to end-user.

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6 years 35 weeks ago
Heat Balance in the Human Body Keywords: calories, energy, energy use, evaporation, metabolic rate, power, sweat, thermal radiation, thinking

How much energy does our body use? How do we keep cool when it is really hot out? Can we justify eating more when studying?

Treating the human body as a thermodynamic system, with food energy going in and heat flow due to radiation, convection, evaporation and conduction, we can see how we can maintain a constant core temperature in a huge variety of environmental conditions.

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6 years 40 weeks ago
Fan Efficiency Keywords: efficiency, electric fan, power

How can we measure the efficiency of an electric fan?

When you're out shopping for an electric fan, it might be a good idea to look for one that not only keeps you cool, but keeps your energy consumption low, too. Using an anemometer, Kill-A-Watt meter and a little bit of math, you can figure out how efficient your fan really is.

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4 years 32 weeks ago
Energy Efficiency and the Jevons Paradox Keywords: consumption, efficiency, energy, jevons, solid state lighting

Will increasing efficiency really reduce energy consumption?

Increases in energy efficiency have been shown to increase, rather than decrease, consumption.

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6 years 28 weeks ago
Energy and Power Keywords: definition, energy, types, useage

What is energy? Why is it such a useful concept? How does it relate to power?

Energy is the capacity to do work (both are measured in Joules). Power is the rate at which energy is transformed from one state to another, often from a stored state into work (a Joule of energy transformed per second is a Watt of power). Subsistence living requires about 200 W per person. Western living requires about 10 kW per person. Humankind currently uses about 12.5 TW of power, most from fossil fuels. Ten billion people living a western lifestyle (the not-impossible goal of many futurists) would require 100 TW of power.

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5 years 40 weeks ago
Cycling and Showering Keywords: cycling, energy use, heat capacity, showering

Are cycle commuters, who take an extra shower, doing more damage to the environment than those who commute by car?

A recent letter to the Vancouver Sun claimed that commuting by bicycle was worse for the environment than commuting by car. The reason given was that if a cycle-commuter takes an extra shower at work (because cycling makes you sweaty), that burns the energy equivalent of a litre of gasoline, which is more than a car would burn on an average commute. Fact or rubbish?

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7 years 1 week ago
Cool Roofs Keywords: albedo, carbon dioxide, emission, energy, surface temperature

Can painting our roofs white offset tonnes of CO2 emissions??

In this article, we look at how we can save energy, reduce the Earth’s surface temperature and offset carbon dioxide emissions just by making our roofs and pavements a lighter colour!

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6 years 41 weeks ago
Comparing Energy and Heat Units Keywords: BTU, cost, energy, greenhouse gases, oil barrel, quad, R-value, thermal conductivity, thermal resistance, unit conversion, Watts

How do I compare heat and energy values given in different units?

A look at how to compare the costs of natural gas, gasoline and electricity and how to convert between various heat units including R-values, U-values, BTU/h, W and more.

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6 years 46 weeks ago
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