Week 2: Energy Storage; Measurement Lab

Problem Set 2: Personal Energy Consumption Challenge

This homework is previewed in a discussion at the end of the Lecture 2 video.

Choose two days over the following week.

Day 1

Consider only consumables (you do not need to worry about the energy required to make the laptop, etc., just the energy you consumed using it), document the energy you used. Possibilities: food, cooking, water, lighting, electricity for laptops/computer/cellphone/other appliances and technology, heating/cooling, transportation).

You’ll need to do a lot of estimating here; that’s to be expected, just document how you arrive at your numbers. For a shared situation (for example, taking a public bus with 10 other people), you can divide to calculate your portion.

Estimate/calculate the total energy consumed by your life (daily), and calculate your average power usage.

What percentage of your daily energy consumption is in your control? What is out of your control (for example, in most dorms and classrooms you have NO control over the temperature)? What is a grey area (for example, you can choose which computing device to use to do your work, but you can’t eliminate use of a computer entirely if you want to pass your classes)?

Day 2

Make a list of the areas where you think you can cut back, and by how much. Strive to cut back aggressively … cutting back by 1% is not sufficient.

Implement your cutbacks for one day and calculate how close you were to your estimate in the Day 1 exercise.

Write about the experience: how hard was it to cut back? Discuss how close you were to your target and if you were off, how and why. Where else would you have liked to cut back but couldn’t, and why not? Other reflections on the experience.

If you were forced to use 10% of the energy you currently estimate you’re using, what would you do? Where does that 10% goal come from? You may recall from Week #1 that in the US our average annual energy usage per capita is 360 GJ, whereas in Nicaragua it’s 25 and in Haiti it’s 11.

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