Assignment 2: Personal Energy Audit

Have you looked up each items on your monthly electric bills and really think about the energy uses? Have you ever care about what percentage of the energy consumption is actually wasteful and unnecessary? Being able to read the electric bills and find out what exactly we used daily is very essential. We can start being sustainable by reducing our daily usage of energies. First of all, I will use the West Penn Power website to get a basic idea of the amount of energy used on a daily basis. The personal energy audit is also a good source to estimate the carbon emitted from my monthly energy uses. Then I will make a comparison with the energy consumptions and carbon dioxide emitted of and by the average Americans. Finally, I will explore what are some possible ways to reduce the energy use and contribute to the sustainable world.

Most people don’t really take a close look at their electric bills. Usually they just pay the amount the electric company or gas company tell them to pay. But there is a way to actually look at all your expenses. Since West Penn Power offers the electricity for my house, I explores the webpage and find that there’s a “analyze usage” tab at the catalog. It asks you some general questions to generate a home profile including the property details (number of room, years built, living area etc.), the property features (the type of fuel uses for the heating, cooling and water heating system), household details (number of people living in the house, whether you own or rent the house), utility details (what utilities and services are paid by landlord), and equipment (the amenities provided by the house). From these data and the monthly bills I paid, West Penn Power then generated a pie chart to show the distribution of energy usage.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 10.45.02 PM

The pie chart above is the electric bill from 2/17 to 3/16. The total amount of energy used is:

\[\$128+\$43+\$23+\$18+\$14+\$8+\$6=\$240\]

The heating system used the most energy:

\[\frac{\$128}{\$240} \times 100\% \approx 53\%\]

I would assume this is due to the exceptionally cold winter. So one way to reduce the energy consumed is to keep the windows and the doors closed so that it won’t consume extra energy to keep the house temperature as set up.

The second largely used energy section is the water heating system and the laundry. But I assume that the pool section would also be included in the water heating system because we used hot tubs and we don’t have any swimming pools.

\[\frac{\$43+\$23}{\$240} \times 100\% \approx 28\%\]

The 28% of energy usage can be reduced by reduce using the water tub because it would consumes extra amount of hot water and more energy would go to the water heating system.

The third largest energy usage would go to the lightings.

\[\frac{\$18}{\$240} \times 100\% \approx 7.5\%\]

The data is quite surprising because we’ve all been told to turn off the light as a child because they cause so much energy. Though it varies with different people and different housings, it actually turns out that the lightings did not consume too much of the total energy used. But there’re ways that we could save energy on lightings and it’s very easy to do. According to the article Lighting Choices to Save You Energy, the compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are the best options for light bulbs. They are more energy efficient and they save about 3/4 of the energy consumed by traditional incandescent light bulbs, not to mention that they even last 10 times longer. Imagine if all the traditional lightbulbs are replaced by CFLs, we could save this much of energy per month:

\[\frac{0.75\times\$18}{\$240}\times100\%=1.9\%\]

The West Penn Power also shows the average energy consumption of a household and it’s $208 per month. So I used more energy than the average energy consumption of other households.

Now looking at the personal degree audit, I filled out the same background information and it estimates that I contribute 6.58 tons of carbon dioxide per year. It says that the average number of carbon emission per year is 10.66 tons.

\[\frac{10.66\text(tons)-6.58\text(tons)}{10.66\text(tons)}\times100\%=38\%\]

I would conclude the rational behind the differences between the above average energy consumption and the below average carbon emission is due to the car. We didn’t own any cars and thus it would largely decrease our carbon emission to the environment.

 

Looking at the personal energy consumptions, one can really feel the responsibility one has towards saving energy and becoming more sustainable. The data that compares the energy used by oneself and the average Americans would also enable one to see a bigger picture of the issue. Being sustainable is not just a theoretical thing, it can be reached by us starting to really think about how many wasted energy we’ve consumed in the past and how can we avoid future wasting. Every one of us should be responsible for the increasing carbon dioxide emissions and actions should be taken right now!

Sources:

  1. West Penn Power. https://www.firstenergycorp.com/content/customer/west_penn_power.html
  2. Personal Energy Meter. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/energy/great-energy-challenge/global-personal-energy-meter/
  3. Lighting Choices to Save You Energy.                        http://energy.gov/energysaver/lighting-choices-save-you-money
  4. How to Reduce Your Energy Consumption. http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/genergy.asp 

 

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