Energy Saving – Part 2.

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OK, now for step 2.  In step 1 we began to track how much energy we use overall.  In step 2 we will delve a little deeper into our electricity consumption

No. 2 – List the things that use electricity & estimate how much they use.

Go around your house and make a list of all the things that are plugged in and using electricity.  We are going to break down our total electricity consumption to help us see where we can make savings.  Play particular attention to the things that are always plugged in rather than gadgets like mobiles phones, etc.

My home is heated using gas so the major items for me are,

  1. Electric cooker (oven)
  2. TV with DVD player and digital TV box
  3. Fridge
  4. Washing machine
  5. Microwave
  6. Central heating pump
  7. Kettle
  8. Power Shower
  9. Internet router
  10. Lighting
  11. Other miscellaneous items (e.g. laptops, mobile phones, vacuum cleaner, toothbrushes, etc.)

Now we need to work out the contribution of each of these items to the overall electricity consumption that we’ve been tracking in Step 1.  The results for my house are shown in the chart below.

Elec Con

You can now see that I can save a significant of electricity by;

  • Making sure that nothing is left on stand-by – especially my TV / DVD player, washing machine and microwave – switch it off at the socket.
  • Only boiling the amount of water I need in the kettle
  • Double checking that I have energy efficient light bulbs
  • Maybe eating less energy intensive meals (ie. not oven cooked)
  • Check that the seals on the fridge are in good shape
  • Perhaps switch to a lower RPM spin-cycle.

All this stuff is pretty simple and maybe you’ve heard it before.  Importantly it doesn’t involve any sacrifice on your part.  You don’t have to sit in the dark, shivering to make these savings.  They are pure waste.  You may discover different things, for example, you may be surprised at how many things are left permanently plugged in, and you may be shocked at exactly how much your tumbled dryer costs you (when you can let at least some of the washing dry naturally).

I want you to measure the consumption so you can see the impact of following advice on energy saving.  I believe that the act of measurement reinforces these messages and ensures that these good acts become permanent habits.

I haven’t said how I completed this analysis.  I did it in 2 of ways.

A.  Using a Power (watt) meter

B. Estimating based on knowledge of voltage/current/watts and usage.

More about these next time.

Saving Energy – Part 1.

Last week I backed Neurio on Kickstarter. I was not surprised to see it smash its funding target hitting 281%.  Backing Neurio was a no-brainer for me – I can see this gadget paying for itself within a couple of months.  Neurio is a neat little device that energy aware technology inc (www.energy-aware.com) have in development.  It measures your energy consumption and facilitates energy savings.  (I won’t go into detail about what is does.  The creators of the system do a much better job – check out their web site for details.)

However you don’t need gadgets to save money & energy (and thus reduce climate change).  I thought I would share my experiences of saving energy in my home over a couple of blog posts.  Share some of my light bulb moments, if you’ll excuse the pun.

No. 1 – Measure how much energy you use every week

For me measuring is fundamental.  When you understand how much energy you use you will be able to,

  • Track your performance, set targets & give yourself an incentive to save (maybe think of something nice to do with some of the money you will save)
  • Compare your consumption with others to see how energy efficient you are at the moment
  • And get the right deal from electricity and gas suppliers

I take an electricity and gas meter reading at the same time each week.  I do this on Sunday at about 7 o’clock as I am usually at home at this time.  I record this in a spreadsheet and create a graph of how much energy I use each week.  It is important to take it at about the same time (without being too obsessive!) to make it easier to compare how your consumption changes over time. A snip of my spreadsheet is shown below.  You can see when I went on holiday and when I switched by gas central heating on! 

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Your your energy use does vary a bit week by week.  In winter energy use can go up as the central heating is on and we spend more time at home.  Ideally it would be good to monitor energy use before you start saving so you know how much you have saved – you might consider it a little odd, however, to continue to waste energy! – Your call. 

Step No 2.  Turn off all the things that don’t need to be on!

More about this in the next blog.

Maker2Maker Aims to Bring Makers Together

mattnewbury:

Isn’t sharing half the fun of making?

Originally posted on MAKE:

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My name is Alex Markus and making things is my passion. I was one of those kids who tore things apart to see how they worked and loved to tinker, draw, sculpt, and daydream about possibilities. I loved seeing what my own hands and mind could produce. As I grew up and my career took me farther and farther away from what I really love to do (funny how that happens sometimes), making became more of a hobby, but the love of creating things never faded.

Over the last few years I’ve watched the growth of maker culture with considerable interest, and have seen a lot of amazing things, from hardware startups to education, as well as collaborative makerspaces opening up in cities all across North America.

What I didn’t see was a central place where makers could:

  • Meet/find each other (both locally and globally)
  • Showcase their work
  • Market their…

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Fashion will save us?

I was reading an article in a magazine and the following lines made me pause. “Fashion and technology are the perfect pairing.  Fashion’s constant need for newness drives to continually seek novel materials and innovative ways of making garments.”  Make Issue Vol 36, page 16.  Experiments in 3D printed fashion. What struck me is the implication that our basic human need to invent, that drives improvements in medicine, space flight and renewable energy sources, is the same one that make us all wear tight trousers one year and flared ones the next. I am no fan of fashion. (Those that know me will know that I am also no follower of fashion).  The side of fashion I see is wrapped in the cult of celebrity, Asian sweat shops, child labour and a throw-away culture.  I can think of no other human activity that is so wasteful and so apparently self-indulgent.  Think of the amount of waste refuse sites crammed with stacked heeled shoes because they are no longer in vogue.  

Perhaps I need to re-think.  Perhaps it is as valid as any human drive to create.  Albeit one with some unpleasant side effects.

Makers: the New Explorers of the Universe

mattnewbury:

I found David’s article to be really thought provoking. The term Amateur has been so often used to mean ‘of low quality’. In the context of David’s article the Amateur is a hero. It is somebody driven by a passion to explore without the hum-drum motivation of payment. Surely it can’t be surprising that passionate people will break through barriers and chart new territory? The Amateur may lack a formal education but unskilled they are not.

Originally posted on MAKE:

Historically, science and exploration was the domain of amateurs. (Images: Royal Ontario Museum/Flickr)

Before the establishment of discipline-specific training programs in the 18th and 19th centuries, most scientific research was carried out by amateurs.  (Images: Royal Ontario Museum/ Flickr )

“[In] the last century, discovery was basically finding things. And in this century, discovery is basically making things.”

So explained Stewart Brand at the TED conference this past February. He was referring to the National Geographic Society’s rationale for hosting the first-ever meeting on de-extinction — a gathering of scientists and engineers who are using biotechnology to bring back extinct species.

His statement is a bold idea: the future of discovery is about making. In the context of Brand’s talk, however, the message was quickly overshadowed by the even bolder idea that we are close to reviving extinct species. But the “making” statement is worth unpacking. Is it true? What does that mean for discovery? What does that mean for makers?

True discovery…

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