Posts tagged ‘electricity’

Book Your Summer

In conjunction with First Lady Ann Scott’s recent announcement of the Summer Literacy Adventure, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are encouraging students to head outdoors with a book from DOE’s Just Read, Florida! 2011 Recommended Summer Reading List.

Reading, indoors or outdoors, no matter the season, engages the imagination of both children and adults. Reading is also a green activity.

Woman on couch readingOnce produced, a book requires no additional resources to enhance its function. Books require no batteries, no chords, no chargers, no accessories, no electricity. Books do not require upgrades. Though sequels are sometimes produced, the original functions just fine without it.

Books require little maintenance. No fuel, oil, or hoses to refill, change or inspect.

Books are durable and can last under a bed for months, on a bookcase for decades, even centuries, and be just as functional as the day they were printed.

Books are easily shared. Books can be passed around to a multitude of friends and family members and still be read by yet another generation. Reading aloud is another green option for sharing a book with others, and doesn’t require downloading an app.

Books are portable. They fit easily into a beach bag, carry-on luggage, backpacks and pockets.

Reading is powered by the human mind, and during the long days of summer, reading light is provided by sunshine. The grass doesn’t get much greener.

Find more easy actions to stay cool and stay green this summer.

June 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Conserving Energy Reduces Waste

Currently in the U.S., electricity demand continues to increase even as energy efficiency gains are made.  Since 1970, the use of coal to generate electricity in the U.S. has nearly tripled in response to growing electricity demand.  Almost half of the electricity is presently generated by coal-fueled electric power plants.  The more electricity consumed the more coal that is being used for energy production. Consider that the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that electricity demand will grow by 41% by 2030.  With the burning of coal to produce electricity, ash is produced.  In the process of converting coal into energy, the coal-fueled electric power industry generated approximately 72.4 million tons of coal fly ash (ash that rises to the chimney or stack), 18.4 million tons of bottom ash (ash that does not rise), and 2.0 million tons of boiler slag (molten ash) in 2008. Though some of the coal fly ash, bottom ash, and boiler slag can be used in cement, asphalt and construction projects, 70 – 80 percent of the ash ends up in a landfill.

Small changes in daily routines, such as turning off lights, unplugging appliances not in use, washing clothes in cold water, and maintaining moderate household temperatures reduces the amount of coal needed to produce electricity. So while you’re conserving energy, you’re also reducing waste!

Michell Mason Smith
Engineering Specialist III
Solid Waste Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

October 27, 2010 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

Let There Be Energy-efficient Light

Let there be light. And TV and DVD and Wii. Let there be laptops with printers and speakers. Let there be microwaves, refrigerators, cell phone chargers, washers and clothes dryers and hair dryers, water heaters, leaf blowers and circular saws. Let there be fax machines, copiers, and projectors for PowerPoint presentations. And, please, let there be A/C and coffee makers.

We Americans rely on electricity to power our lives. We also like to lower our utility bills. So when we hear “Conserve energy,” we’ve learned to turn off the lights, unplug techno toys when not in use, buy energy-efficient appliances. For most of us, conserving energy means using less electricity. Until I asked some of my DEP collegues, I didn’t know that conserving electricity also conserves water.

The average Florida household uses 1,120 kilowatts hours (kWh) of electricity each month and thermoelectric power plants generate most of it.

Thermoelectric power plants burn coal and natural gas or use nuclear fission to heat water. The steam drives a generator to produce electricity.  The water for generating steam comes from nearby water bodies such as rivers or lakes.  Most of the water is returned to its source, but it has to be cooled before being discharged back into the native ecosystem from whence it came, where fishes and other life forms have an aversion to steam baths. Cooling towers lower the water’s temperature, but some of the water evaporates as it cools. How much? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported that as much as 0.47 gallons of water evaporate for each kWh of electricity generated.

According to a 2006 U.S. Department of Energy report, water usage at thermoelectric power plants accounted for 39 percent of all freshwater use in the U.S. in 2000, almost as much as that used for irrigating our orange groves, strawberry fields, tomatoes, corn and all sorts of other useful agricultural products.

If you think that’s a lot of water to power our amenities, consider the water budget of a typical hydroelectric power plant.  On a national average, hydroelectric power plants use 18 gallons of water to produce a kWh, about 40 times more than is used to generate thermoelectric power.  These losses arise because reservoirs built to produce hydroelectric power create additional surface area where water can evaporate.

According to the NREL report, the 120 largest hydroelectric facilities in the U.S. lose about 9,063 million gallons of water per day to evaporation.   That’s more than we withdraw for public supply in the entire state of Florida each day. 

Though I don’t know how potential energy in water and a chunk of coal magically shows up to power my toaster, I do know that saving energy saves money. And now I also know that simple actions like turning off the lights, switching to energy-efficient appliances and unplugging electronics also conserve water.

Information provided by:
Daniel M. Kuncicky, PhD  
Environmental Manager
Solid Waste Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

October 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm 2 comments

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