Random Thoughts on Energy

March 9, 2008

About a year or so ago, I was doing some energy evaluation in my household and ran across a neat little entry about the mechanical equivalent of electrical energy…Q:  What does it mean if a light bulb uses 60 watts?

A:  The watt is a unit of power, equivalent to the joule-per-second.  One joule is about the amount of energy it takes to raise a 12 ounce can of soda 1 foot.  A 60-watt lightbulb uses 60 joules-per-second, so the power it consumes could raise a 24-can case of soda 2.5 feet each second.  Most tables are about 2.5 feet above the floor.  Next time you leave a 60-watt lightbulb burning while you’re not in the room, imagine how tired you’d get lifting one case of soda onto a table every second for an hour or two. That’s the mechanical effort required at the generating plant to provide the 60 watts of power you’re wasting.

So the moral of the story is, turn off the lights when you aren’t using them!

Making a quick comparison to other household habits — you don’t leave the refrigerator door open when you aren’t in the kitchen, nor do you leave the water running when you aren’t about to immediately use it.  So why do we care so little about the lights???

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