Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Interesting, German news weekly Der Spiegel seems to be offering certain of their articles for download at relatively moderate fees of €0,85 per article up to €4 for multi-article reports. Not cheap, but perhaps cheap enough to not put people off completely. As we have a subscription, we won't need that anyway.

Even more interesting, they seem to offer their top story in English as well now. For free. While it may be a bit ironic that you have to pay for the original story while getting the English translation for free, that probably makes sense as the purpose of the translation may be the education of foreigners and internationally spreading their name rather than direct profits.

This week they have an article on the power failure in America. Not that there's any revolutionary analysis in there. But the recently discovered word dilapidated is.

A big issue seems to be awareness of wasting energy. I've been quite aware of this for a decade or so now, as I once did a school project on the topic. There are many places where we needlessly waste energy (or other resources). Leaving appliances in standby mode is one of them. Or, if standby mode is inevitable, there are appliances that need 2W for doing nothing while others need 40W. Obvious room for improvement, without even losing any comfort. As electricity is quite cheap, people don't really worry about this a lot, although this should be a sizeable amount of money:

Wasting just 20W on standby modes which could be more efficient, amounts to almost half a kWh per day. That's 10 cents or so per day for nothing, more than €15 per year. It can really be quite an eye-opener to look up the power consumption of all electric devices or even mesure them with a little gadget that you can borrow from your energy supplier. Perhaps I'll try to make a list of my consumption soon.

Of course electric energy is not everything. For example, building computers uses a lot of energy, so for a comprehensive review of your total use of resources you'd have to do quite a bit of research – possibly failing due to data not being available. I've even seen people discussing whether it's worth building cars of aluminium as producing aluminium uses loads of energy which may not be compensated by the reduced weight and fuel consumption. Of course driving a car, can easily make your energy consumption sky-rocket. But even then, driving a small car with air conditioning switched on only when it's really needed will make a difference to having a truck, with the a/c keeping the temperature at a nice 20° even with the windows open...

Another great possibility to save energy is moving together with other people. This reduces a lot of overhead for fridges &c and also for hot water and heating. The next step would of course be to talk about solar panels and other green energies and modern housing with proper insulation. If a house is designed with energy consumption in mind, quite amazing savings seem to be possible.

All these things are quite obvious, really. You just have to take a second and think about them. And then of course, draw the right conclusions.

Back in my school project, my computations suggested that the energy used for standby modes requires about one additional nuclear power plant. Ahh, creature comforts.

August 22, 2003, 18:31

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