Friday, March 20, 2009

I use a little power, but not too much... right?

I'll start with a quick summary for those of you who don't have a lot of time:
1. I tracked my Entertainment center's power... and used the data to estimate:
  • It uses 1,242.1 kWh/year
  • Costs $131.28 / year
  • Produces 1,132.79 lbs of CO2/year
2. I estimated ghost power used by my entertainment center (if I left the entertainment center off but plugged in 24/7):
  • It uses 168.71 kWh/year
  • Costs $17.77 / year
  • Produces 153.37 lbs of CO2/year
3. Finally, I researched some statistics about world wide emissions, population, trees, and stuff like that:
  • US Population: about 307 Million (307,212,123 - CIA)
    • Annual emissions per person: 36,000 lbs of CO2
    • Total Emissions: 9,120,000,000,000 (9.1 Trillion) lbs of CO2 per year
  • World Population about 6.7 Billion (6,706,993,152 - CIA)
    • Annual emission per person: 9,788.52 lbs of CO2
    • Total Emissions: 68,519,640,000,000 (68 Trillion) lbs of CO2 per year
    • 1,427,492,500,000 (1.4 Trillion) trees are required to sustain human life
      (Long term... as in for the trees to remove extra CO2... kind of like heating up the water after you put the frog in... the water gradually becomes lethal for the frog... that's what might happen when we don't have this many trees...)
  • NASA's 2005 estimate of trees worldwide: about 400,246,300,201 (400 Billion)
    • 48 lbs of CO2 absorbed by each tree every year
    • 19,211,822,409,648 (19 Trillion) lbs of CO2 absorbed by trees in 2005
  • 49,307,817,590,352 (49 Trillion) extra lbs of CO2 every year
    (beyond what trees can handle)
  • CO2 absorbs heat from sunlight
    (as to other greenhouse gasses)
  • World population has doubled in the last 40 years
  • 2008 showed the highest world wide birth rate ever
    ("The Commentators" - show on NPR yesterday)
  • Corporations produce more pollution via factories and office buildings than human people
    (corporations are legally people)
  • All this info together makes me think we may have a problem.
  • We need 1,827,738,800,201 (1.8 Trillion) more trees
    (That is in order to compensate for the CO2 we create. Which one day could reach toxic levels and make Earth a lot more like Venus.)
  • I really hope I made a mistake somewhere...
  • Emissions data is from 2004...
    tree estimate from 2005...
    population estimates from 2007...
    I also added sources and more details below... so, feel free to browse or read the whole thing.
    This week was a testing week for me at home. I know I test at work all the time, but at home I am trying to figure out just home much power I really use. So, I started this little test by posting a bit about my over all power usage to the Frizzlefry tech blog (which just got a new look! Ironically it is the same look as this blog, minus the logo...) and now I'm just going to blurt out a little bit about my day to day usage.

    So, My entertainment center has been the focus of my testing this week, and I have to admit that the results were a little different than I expected. I thought that my entertainment center would be a huge power hog. After all I do have a large amount of electronic stuff in my apartment, and the bulk of the stuff that I use all the time is in one place. So, for the experiment I hooked my Kill-A-Watt to my entertainment center, and I have the following items powered through it:
    • TV
    • Laptop
    • DVD Player
    • PC Speakers (because my TV's speakers suck!)
    • Xbox
    • Printer
    • External Hard Drive
    • bookshelf lamp
    So... how much power does all that stuff use? Well from normal usage of what ever it is I do on a day to day basis, it uses 1.43 kilowatt Hours (kWh) on a weekday, and about 2.36 kWh on a weekend day. While I am sleeping I use about .43 kWh, and I use about .6 kWh when I am at work. This means that in a typical week (and I am predicting usage between yesterday at 07:30, and tomorrow at 23:45) I probably use about 10 kWh.

    So, what does this really mean? Well, it means about $1 per week... 11lbs of CO2 per week*... 564lbs of CO2 per year*. So, the power adds up. It's like driving 813 miles in a car that gets 30 mpg... or you could call it one person's contribution to riding 2,165 miles on the bus.

    One other factor that I didn't really think about too much was the draw of "ghost power". This isn't the result of some coporious entity flying around and plugging in invisible electronics, but this is the power that all of my stuff draws when I am not around to monitor it. Ghost power is generated by all of the electronic stuff people have these days. You see, one upon a time, when you turned something on, you actually flipped a physical switch (Like a light switch...) and now a days electronic devices have a button that is connected to electronic switch inside the device. Even when the device is off, these devices still draw power. Some devices like (e.g. desktop computers, TVs, monitors, transformers, ect.) draw power to keep capacitors charged at all times; that way you don't have to wait as long for them to turn on. These also draw power while the devices are off.

    My entertainment center draws a constant .16 amps while turned off. So how does that factor in? Well, that is .02 kWh (168.17 kWh per year) and if you assume I were to constantly leave my entire entertainment system off... to my power bill, it's $0.00 per hour... $0.05 per day... $0.34 per week... $1.48 per month... $17.77 per year... and those are the small numbers in this equation. The larger numbers are when you look at how many lbs of CO2 that produces: .02 per hour... .46 per day... 2.98 per week... 12.91 per month... 153.37 lbs of CO2per year! Those numbers are just from having everything plugged in and turned off!

    Now, in perspective, from multiple sites around the Internet, I've come to the conclusion that the average person probably produces somewhere around 700 lbs of CO2 every year... so, I am only producing about 1/7

    of what a normal person produces, but that doesn't really make it ok... I mean, if all 7 billion people did that, we would have a huge problem, and the problem is that all 7 billion people are producing much more than that. The average American (about 304 Million people) produces about 32,000 lbs of CO2 every year. The rest of the world produces about 15,000 lbs of CO2 per person...

    So, world wide, we produce somewhere around 109,560,000,000,000 (109 Trillion) lbs of CO2 every year. There is nowhere for that gas to go. We breathe it in, it absorbs heat from sun light, and I am kind of sure that the trees can't deal with that much CO2... at least (assuming a mature tree absorbs 48 lbs of CO2 per year) around 2,282,500,000,000 (2 Trillion) trees just to sustain human life. NPR Said here that "In 2005, there were 400,246,300,201 (more or less) trees on our globe," which was a rough estimate produced by NASA. At that time there were a little over 6.4 billion people on the planet. One other key factor is that corporate emissions from factories and offices are typically far greater than emissions from individuals; plus the human population is growing exponentially about every 40 years (and speeding up) so we will need more factories. I am really starting to think we may have some sort of problem.

    So, I know that these numbers are all rough estimates... and we aren't accounting for the largest oxygen producer on the planet (water)... and we aren't accounting for all the small plants around the world... and I'm pretty sure some of the gas escapes into the vacuum of space... and I don't even know what else I am forgetting about...

    However, I don't think we have a definitive answer to the problem yet... but projects like the smart grid, and Google.org, and countless others will help. We should start by getting rid of fossil fuels, and creating a smarter and cleaner electrical grid.

    So, if you read the entire post and the summary at the beginning, you may see something I forgot to change. I made a few mistakes the first time I wrote this post, and when I was writing the summary I checked to verify everything... I may have forgotten to correct a couple things... I am in a hurry to get this done before lunch ends.

    Oh, another thing... my goal for CO2 emissions for the year of 2009 is to produce less than 12,248 lbs... in 2008 I produced about 14,000 lbs... 2007 was estimated at around 22,000 lbs. My goal is to produce the same CO2 emissions as a person in a 3rd world country... about 3,000lbs.

    Later,
    SteveO

    Sources