Friday, April 30, 2010

Insane Energy Policy?

This isn't my usual sort of blog entry, but the recent mining deaths in W VA, and the pending environmental disaster (and deaths) due to the BP oil-well failure in the Gulf really just points out that America's energy policy is out of touch with reality.

Forty years ago, we could have taken a much cleaner and safer path to nuclear energy, but instead we listened to fear-mongers and their dire predictions of nuclear disaster. That has kept us forever tied to fossil fuels. The irony of all of this is the real disasters that have befallen the planet over and over again as oil is spilled, wells fail, and coal mines explode.

Our lakes and rivers are so polluted with mercury (byproduct of burning coal) that people are warned not to eat fish more than once per week and pregnant women are told not to eat it at all.

Compare the growing stack of bodies lost harvesting traditional energy sources to the number of people that have died in nuclear incidents and the imagined damage to the environment planet wide that simply didn't happen to the magnitude of what appears to be acceptable collateral damage caused by our current energy policy.

All energy sources pose some danger, some just have far less than others. America got hood-winked into picking the worst of the lot.

But there is hope. Renewable energy supplies are poking their heads above the ground and attempting to spring to life. If we keep going, maybe 40 years from now we might be in a sane place.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How much does your cable box suck?

I did some power monitoring our our entertainment equipment. I had been concerned about the "vampire" load of our high-def cable box, and was not surprised to find that it pulls 68 watts in BOTH the on and off state (my only surprise was that they bothered to put a power button on it at all since it appears to do nothing of value). At our current electrical rate the set-top box costs us $107 per year to operate.

Unfortunately, it is a particularly bad candidate for turning off because it takes many hours to recover all the channel information after a power-cut.

Also in the "ungood" news department, our 50 inch HDTV is pulling 225 watts, well above the 153 watt Energy Star 4 rating which goes into effect in May. "Honey, we are killing the environment, can I buy a new TV that will save us 72 watts per hour?" (AYOOYM? It will take us
139,000 hours of viewing just to break-even. That's 16 years if we leave it on 24/7.)