There is no doubt that we live in the age of electronics. Every aspect of our lives are influenced and shaped by power. I remember growing up having only a handful of things that plugged in. These days everything seems to be plugged in from iPods to cell phones, computers, TV’s, video games as well as all of our household and kitchen appliances.
How many times have you plugged something in and really stopped to think about where the electricity you are consuming is coming from and what the cost of that electricity is? I know that I don’t. It’s just easier to plug in and ignore the fact that it has to come from somewhere.
The US is the largest producer and consumer of electricity generating and using 3992 billion KWh. Ever think about how all this electricity is produced? According to the EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) the top three methods of energy production in the US are coal, natural gas and nuclear. So none of our top 3 are renewable energy sources. Coal in particular, which is our largest method of energy production by far, is a major contributor to pollution and ultimately global warming.
If we are going to maintain this love relationship with everything electronic (and I don’t see any reason for this to change) we need to start implementing green sources of energy. Here is an interesting National Geographic article that talks about potential power sources of the future.
But switching from conventional energy sources to these potential future sources is a long way off. But there are things each of us can do right now to conserve energy. Not only is conservation good for the environment but it will save you money too. Here are a few ideas that are really easy to implement:
- Adjust your refrigerator’s thermostat to save power. An ideal temperature is between 38 and 42 degrees F. Set the freezer portion no lower than 0 degrees F.
- Turn your hot water heater down. Set it at 120 degrees F.
- Wash your clothes in warm or cold water, not hot.
- Only run your dishwasher when completely full.
- Use energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs
There really are so many things we can be doing to conserve that don’t really impact our lifestyles. Now many would argue that a major shift in lifestyle is exactly what we need and I’m not going to argue the point there. But the reality is that we are not quite there yet for most people to make those kinds of changes. We have to start somewhere and making small adjustments to our daily lives like the suggestions above will cascade into other changes in the way we think about the resources we use.
Next time you plug in think about where that power is coming from.