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Why do we need to save energy?

Why do we need to save energy?

Climate change. What is climate change? Climate change is a long-term change in the Earth’s overall temperature with massive and permanent repercussions. The change is happening now and now is the time to act on it. If we don’t act on it soon we will continue to face its potentially deadly consequences. These consequences include warming oceans, rising sea levels, and changes in our weather patterns. Some researchers say that “we only have a few years to start fighting climate change before we face it’s worst effects.

What can we do?

In your own home, make sure to recycle, when it’s possible think about taking public transportation or walk instead of driving, turn down the heat and wear a sweater, turn down the A/C, eat less meat, and inform others of what you have learned.

Fighting climate change comes down to one big thing we need to do. Reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil account for more than a quarter of all global emissions. This process produces more greenhouse gas than any other human activity. Reducing our energy consumption is key to fighting climate change. The average household around the world uses about 3,500 kWh/year of energy with the US being on the higher side at around 11,700 kWh/year and China on the lower side at about 1,300 kWh/year. People around the world can combat climate change by recycling, walking instead of driving, turning off electronics, eating less meat, and educating themselves on climate change.

One of the biggest ways we can use less energy is by becoming more energy efficient. One report says that becoming more energy efficient is “saving households, on average, $840, and reducing carbon pollution by 490 million tons in 2015”. Energy efficiency “has the potential to keep 1 billion tons of carbon pollution out of the air and avoid the need for 800 power plants.” This is huge considering power plants are the number one contributor towards pollution. Higher efficiency standards since 1990 have allowed “efficiency to become the nation’s third-largest electricity resource.”

This graph is a visual representation of the number of power plant equivalents avoided by energy efficiency since 1990 and potential through 2030.

How can we advocate for change?

We began this GOA energy class by filling out an energy audit to find out how much energy we use. After taking the energy audit I was shocked at how much energy my family uses and although we were able to compare our usage as a class, I would’ve liked to compare mine to a larger audience and challenge those people to reduce their energy consumption. Taking what I learned from this class I decided to push for change in my school community. I challenged part of my school community to complete the energy audit and reduce their overall consumption of energy.

Students Vs. Teachers- Who uses more energy?

I asked 8 students and 5 faculty members at my school to complete an energy audit, that was created by Lehigh students, based on their families usage. The audit asks questions about energy usage from 9 different categories ranging from entertainment to heating and cooling to long and short range transportation. Students and faculty completed the audit for their entire households energy use and students families ranged from 2-5 people and teachers ranged from 2-4 people. Since on average the student’s families were bigger my main focus was the difference between the entertainment category and the cleaning category. On average students use their tv (watching tv and playing video games) for 2 more hours than teachers.

What uses the most energy?

Between the students and teachers, I surveyed, the top three categories that used the most energy were heating and cooling, short-range transportation and food preparation. The food preparation category includes cooking with the stove, oven, microwave, and toaster, and the energy used by your refrigerator. The total energy used by the food preparation is led by the refrigerator so the total usage can fluctuate between families depending on how many refrigerators the household has. The short range transportation can also be very different between households because of their proximity to school or work. The average American drives about 37 miles per day. Half of the students I surveyed lived within 5 miles of our school and 3 of the 5 teachers I surveyed live on our school campus.

Heating and cooling round out the top three categories at about 55% of the energy used by the teachers and students. The average American family spends about 48% of its total energy usage on heating and cooling throughout the year. The energy usage is affected by how often you run the furnace and central air, how energy efficient the unit is, installation methods and smart thermostats. Newer units being installed in houses today are much more energy efficient.

Take action in your community

So now I challenge you to take the energy audit that my community has taken (http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/energy/resources/handouts/activities/Energy_audit_handout_student.pdf) and send your results to mwswindell@students.gilman.edu.

In your own home, make sure to recycle, when it’s possible think about taking public transportation or walk instead of driving, turn down the heat and wear a sweater, turn down the A/C, eat less meat, and inform others of what you have learned.

 

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COMMENTS: 3
  1. April 29, 2018 by Tina Bessias Reply

    Hi Mason. It’s really cool to see this work! I’m impressed that so many of your peers and teachers took the time to complete the audit; it looks pretty extensive. And the graph of savings from energy efficiency is quite heartening. I appreciate that; the environmental movement needs good news!

  2. April 30, 2018 by Ashley Cornwell Reply

    Mason,
    Great project on energy conservation. It seems that you spent quite some time on research for this project! I found it very interesting to see how both students and teachers use a lot of energy on heating and cooling. I too use heating and cooling a lot but I will try to cut back on that!!

  3. April 30, 2018 by Henry O'Donovan Reply

    Hi Mason,
    I really thought the the graphs helped your argument alot. Pie charts are my favorite! I think that the environment and more specifically climate change is a pressing issue. With that said use mire pie charts. Pie charts are not only user friendly but they are my favorite type of graph!

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