The Impacts of Energy Consumption Coming home from a long day at school, I tell myself, “Damn, I’m tired! ” On top of that, it’s blazing hot outside, so I set my thermostat to the lowest possible temperature so that my apartment can cool down quickly. After I adjust the temperature, I go to the bathroom and then leave the lights on from laziness. Finally, I turn on the television to watch something until I fall fast asleep. The end of the month comes along and I walk to my mailbox to check for any bills and next thing you know I have a staggering bill from Georgia Power!
It’s nothing that I should be surprised about because I have ridiculous habits when it comes to leaving things on and setting my thermostat. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person with an energy-consuming problem. I know that millions of people do the same things I do. Reducing my energy consumption is a challenge that I want to take on to better myself and the environment, which is a change for the good that i have great interest in. I looked at my energy bill for the past month and I did some calculations money wise. When looked over some energy facts on the Energy Star site, it made me realize something.
According to Energy Star, the government agency that helps us all save money on energy and protect the environment at the same time, the air conditioning unit consists of approximately 50% of your monthly electric bill (“Save Energy at Home”). Last month, my bill came up to $70. 71, which is high for me because I don’t really run anything in my apartment but T. V, lights, internet, and my laptop. I barely use my stove or microwave because I’m one of those college students who eats out all the time because I can’t cook. Half of $70 is $35.
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On top of that, the unit can possibly use more than fifty percent if you don’t maintain it properly. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent - and sometimes much more (“Save Energy at Home”). That being said, it would use less energy and cost less. Energy Star also says that leaving things plugged in even when they are not using it, can consume energy. It does indeed show a difference if you practice leaving things that you don’t use unplugged (“Save Energy at Home”).
It saved me around 50 kWh which doesn’t seem like much but it’s something. Next, since an HVAC unit can possibly take over your energy costs, we should all know how to reduce our consumption when it comes to the HVAC unit itself. Installing a programmable thermostat can help your HVAC system become more energy efficient (“Energy Saving Tips”). I was reading a article from the ConsumerMan section of MSNBC and came across an article stating that installing a programmable thermostat can cut your energy costs by 20% (Weisbaum).
These systems that we cherish so much can also be sources of emission into the environment we inhabit. It is said that HVAC systems can be contaminant emission sources (Batterman). Have you ever left some food laying around and come to realize that it starting growing mold? The EPA conducted a few studies that shown that the HVAC systems are the causes of biological growth, and moisture of which molds use to multiply and grow (Batterman). Therefore, it would probably be a good idea to use programmable thermostats to lower costs and emissions into the indoor environment.
These thermostats can minimize the emissions when we are not at home or sleep. Aside from the costs of using the infamous HVAC units that we all cherish so much, the environmental changes is something that goes on unnoticed to people including myself. I think that it’s something that we should consider because of a number of reasons. Energy generation impacts our environment in a way that we don’t see. Most of the energy that we use is produced by power plants that use non-renewable resources such as natural gas, oil, and coil, all of which are considered as fossil fuels. “Fossil Fuels”) Fossil Fuels account for 83% of the Unites States energy consumption (“Fossil Fuels”). All of these fuels can release harmful things like carbon dioxide, which is a dangerous greenhouse gas (“Fossil Fuels”). Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere by agricultural practices and by the burning of fossil fuels (Michaels 5). According to many people and scientists, they believe that this is what may be causing global warming. Another energy generating method is Nuclear power plants. This, in my opinion, is the most harmful way to produce energy.
When nuclear plants are producing energy, they are rapidly changing the temperature, which also increases evaporation. This then increases rainfall, which can affect agriculture with a lack of good soil (“Fossil Fuels”). The environmental concern of nuclear energy production comes from the disposal of nuclear waste. Spillage and leakage of nuclear radiation into the environment can cause people to develop cancer if they inhale these gases (“Fossil Fuels”). That being said, I feel as if when I use too much energy at home and in other places, I cause the releases of these harmful gases my elf. Environmental Impact of Power Generation explains that 39% percent of the energy generated today is used to make more energy (Hester 15). So this book argues that consumption is, in fact, an important factor of a consumer’s environmental footprint. All forms of electric generation can have some type of environmental impact in the world (Hester 17). For example, hydroelectric power plants may not have any impact on the air, but to construct these dams can significantly affect our natural river systems as well as the wildlife that inhabits these rivers (Wittwers 25). What about coal?
When coal is used to generate power, things like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides are released into the atmosphere (Rowland 35). The Environmental Protection Agency requires that the burners of these particular plants have control devices aimed at reducing the amount of emissions that are released. I looked up carbon dioxide in the dictionary just to have an idea of why exactly is it related to global warming. It is said that it is a greenhouse gas that affects the earth’s radiated balance, which also means that it is directly related to global warming. Another way to think about the greenhouse effect is to consider that according to physics the radiation we receive from the Sun must be equally balanced by the heat Earth radiates out to space. If we were to give back less energy than we receive, our planet would soon be too hot for life. ” (“The Greenhouse Effect”) According to the research that I conducted, it is like a chain reaction. We use too much energy at home, the power plants produce more energy for our high demands, and next thing you know we humans are causing global warming.
For the past couple of months, I have been getting significantly high electricity bills and I wanted to know exactly what it is that i have been doing to get such high bills when the only things i constantly run in my two bedroom apartment is: one television, a wireless router, a MacBook, and of-course, my HVAC unit. I learned that the problems are exactly what I just said, “I constantly run. ” Not only that, according to online source, your HVAC unit consumes the most electricity in any household that contains one. I decided to do a project to see what I can do to help lower my energy costs as well as have a lesser impact on the environment.
I looked over my Georgia Power bill and I apparently consumed 532 kWh costing me $70. 71, and 640 kWh the month before costing me a whopping $82. 69. That’s a lot for one person with only a TV and a computer running. So my goal was to lower those numbers as much as i can by the next billing cycle. Throughout all the research that was conducted, I decided to do exactly what my sources suggested. I set my thermostat to 77 degrees and left it there. I unplugged all of my electrical devices that were not in use and only plugged them in when I was ready to use them.
The next billing cycle was up and I got my bill. For the cycle of March- April, I consumed a nice minimum of 364 kWh costing me only a small $52. 55 for that billing cycle. I was excited because my research project had turned out to be a success. Since the last bill, I saved 168 kWh. That was almost gave me $20 dollars in savings. In conclusion, I honestly feel guilty. Before all of this, I left my light on when I wasn’t using them, left my television on when I wasn’t watching it, and I even leave my office active when I wasn’t in my office.
When I say active, I mean my printer stays on at all times as well my desktop and monitor. I just never turn off my computer. It almost seems as if I’m harming the environment with my bad habits especially because I have a habit of leaving on my air conditioning because I either like my apartment freezing cold or blazing hot, depending on the weather and how I feel. The sources that I have introduced have plenty of reasons why people should strive to reduce our energy consumption so we can less impact the environment, ozone layer, and our utility bills.
For one, I now feel better about knowing that I’m are contributing to a change that is bettering the environment and I’m even happier with myself knowing that I cut my electric costs by a percentage. Nowadays, I plug out everything electrical when I go to class and I now normally cut off my HVAC unit a majority of the day to reduce the humidity in my apartment, which contributes to mold and mildew. Works Cited Batterman, Stuart. HVAC Systems as Emission Sources. Washington: U. S Environmental Protection Agency, 1995. Print. "Energy Saving Tips. Efficiency Smart. Energy Star. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. . "Environmental Impact of Nuclear Power. " Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Jan. 2012. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. . "Fossil Fuels. " Institute for Energy Research. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. . Rowland, R. H. , K. E. Gould, and E. McDonald. Environmental Impacts of Dispersed and Concentrated Siting of Coal-fired Power Plants. Palo Alto, CA: Electric Power Research Institute, 1984. 35. Print. "The Greenhouse Effect. " Earthguide: Educational Resources in Earth, Marine, Environmental and Planetary Sciences.
University of California. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. . Michaels, Patrick J. , and Robert C. Balling. The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air about Global Warming. Washington, D. C. : Cato Institute, 2000. Print. "Save Energy at Home. " Saving Energy At Home. Energy Star, 03 Jan. 2012. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. . Weisbaum, Herb. "Will Programmable Thermostat save Me Money? " Msnbc. com. Msnbc Digital Network, 26 Sept. 2007. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. . Wittwer, S. H. Food, Climate, and Carbon Dioxide: The Global Environment and World Food Production. Boca Raton: Lewis, 1995. 25-26. Print.
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