The Energy Crises – Home Users
Let’s face it, love it or hate it everyone these days is harping on about what they are doing to reduce energy wastage. A small house with two occupants can consume between 300 and 600kW over a period of a month. (300~600 units). The biggest pest is the water heater or geyser. By switching the geyser off and on daily some home owners are adamant that their savings are between 10% to 50% per month. This is totally dependent on how many users we have and the times that the geyser is cycled. What is important though is that the utility companies really want your geysers off during peak usage periods. Modern geysers may be controlled by the utility company to prevent current draw during peak periods.
There is scientific evidence proving that cycling the geyser on and off saves money but a 50% saving is doubtful unless it is off for a lengthy period of time running into a few days per month. The main issue here is that the temperature drops significantly below the thermostat cut-in region and more power is then needed to bring the temperature up to cut-off. Installing the geyser in a high ambient temperature region of the house will make a difference, along with a blanket and thermally isolating the piping. Being a non-scientist I think the way in which we heat the water in a geyser is archaic and needs attention.
Energy Crises – knowing your power factor
One of the biggest scams to hit the open market is applying ‘power savers’ to your home or apartment mains supply. There are units sold by the thousands which in reality has… nothing inside it which will save you any money whatsoever, in fact you will be blowing money unnecessarily. Not to harp on a well worn subject but rather on a very well written topic you can veer off to Rod Elliott’s website and find out more on power factor, which is really a very scientific subject and does have engineering students pulling their hair out – go to Power Saver Fraud to discover what really ticks and why not to sink your hard earned cash into any of the myriads of well-marketed but totally worthless pieces of snake-oil gadgets available to the public. The unsuspecting public will think twice or even three times about installing a 15 dollar device which will save you 50% of fuel costs but not enough thought into paying 100 dollars for a device ‘reputed’ to save you electricity costs.
Energy Crises – what else for home users
Here’s food for thought. Ever notice how one skimps on their bad driving habits when their fuel drops to within the reserve space of the fuel tank? If you are fortunate enough you may have an electricity meter in your house which works on a pay as you go.The unfortunate part is that the meter showing consumption is usually mounted too high or in a cupboard, inconvenient for constant monitoring. What is more tragic is that these meters are gathering information but no reports can be generated – we would all just love to know (a) where our electricity went and (b) peak periods. I wish the designers would start focusing on this in the next generation of meters. What do I mean? Modern technology is cheap – so what would it cost to make a device to monitor (i) the high current trips e.g. stove/cooker (ii) geyser, the lower current trips (iii) plug points and (iv) lighting. By utilising the information the home user can determine individual consumption and act conservatively. These devices are available as third party add-ons but the point is, we already have a meter – use it. If it costs $100.00 more so be it. The entire distribution board to modern housing should be re-evaluated to streamline more efficient usage.
Energy Crises – Phantom power
Your computer, audio equipment, television receiver, monitor and cell phone charges are phantom hoggers of power. It is significant to note that only with the increased popularity of switched mode power supplies have these low current or standby power circuits come under the light – first generation equipment had an on off switch isolating mains power entirely, also eliminating any fire or safety concerns. In a typical house one may find up to 15W of power been dissipated unnecessarily every hour! 15 x 24 x 31 = 11kW over a 31 day month. Domestic users seldom think of the consequences when leaving their equipment on standby, besides it being a possible fire hazard.
Would it not be nice if the cable or satellite decoder be able to still decode signals when switched off, the low current receiver running off a standby battery for 24 hours?
In fact there are power strips designed to power off entirely if the current consumption drops below a predetermined limit. In many instances the home user has their TV, decoder and Audio running off the same outlet. Unfortunately the decoder has to always have standby power to decode an incoming data stream, sometimes to switch you off when you haven’t paid your subscription. Imagine that, keep it on so we can switch you off.
Frankly, a lot more can be done to reduce unnecessary wastage.
The Energy Crises – Different strokes for different folks
A common problem in society today is that the wealthy waste more. The wealthy are also becoming more energy conscious and can afford the trends we follow today to make our lives more comfortable but not at the expense of switching off power to save. Solar panels, solar heaters, inverters, storage batteries all cost money. The wealthy can also afford well-points, boreholes and water cleansing systems.
Here’s the thing though, the poor may be the biggest hoggers of energy because they are not educated enough. Using a stove plate as a heater is certainly not unheard of but is perhaps one of the biggest energy wasters known to man. Stealing power from the utility company is a common occurrence. So is death through the stealing of high energy power lines, incorrect wiring and not understanding transmission lines. Utility company employees often get paid big salaries because they are often highly trained individuals. Someone has to pay for the replacement of power lines, transformers, steel and of course, the medical bills. Cutting off the buyers will reduce this utter wastage. At present it certainly looks as if crime does pay.
The energy crises – to conclude
We really have become more aware of our own environment and the impact of power shortages but most often forget that it is the small changes in our own behaviour which produce the most favourable results. By monitoring these changes we can easily save up to 20% of our energy consumption with or without solar, wind or unscrupulous snake-oil devices added to the power chain. After all, the most cost saving device in our quest to reduce costs is the simple on / off switch. Becoming more aware of what you use and yes, more importantly where you use it, can make a huge difference to reduce wastage in our rather gloomy future of going back to the dark ages.
The energy crises may be caused by the utility companies lacking vision or under-pricing their commodities for too long, the reality is manufacturers of consumer products should be applying more thought into power saving than over-investing in petty technology.