June 10, 2016 by Blake

We're going to save a trillion watt-hours of energy.

Not by myself, oh no...that would be hard.  We're going to do it together.  We're already up to 44 billion (44,000,000,000) watt-hours (Wh), so we've already met almost 5% of our goal.

How are we going to do it?  Math tricks.  You pay your electricity bill, and you pay for kilowatt-hours.  A watt-hour is one-thousandth of a kilowatt-hour.  See?  I made it easier.  We're saving smaller units of energy, but a thousand times more of them.  Math tricks.

That's just the electricity - what about the natural gas, propane, oil, pellets, etc?  The energy in those fuels gets converted to watt-hours, too.  If we save a therm of energy, that's equivalent to 330 Wh.

And it's cumulative.  That therm that was saved?  Is saved every year, in perpetuity.  Theoretically, anyway.  So we can count that saved therm, every year, forever.  More math tricks.

And then there's the difference between "site energy" and "source energy."  If we save a watt-hour of electricity at your house, that's more like saving THREE watt-hours, give or take. 

Here's what happens.  Somebody builds a power plant and burns something to make steam to turn turbines to make electricity.  When that fuel (coal, natural gas/methane) is burned, there are combustion losses.  A lot of energy goes up the smokestack.  You can see it from miles around.

Then the energy that's left is used to turn things (losses), make steam (more losses), make electricity (lossloss), pump that electricity into the grid (lose), send it over wires (losing even more), and finally, your lightbulb turns on.  In order to turn on that 60-watt lightbulb, it probably took 180 watts of power.  120 watts just...left.  It went into the atmosphere, made the world slightly warmer, and we didn't get anything for it.

It's different in Canada, though.  They seem to be better at using their resources more efficiently.

That site/source energy ratio is another math trick.  All these math tricks pile up on top of each other, adding and multiplying and before you know it...we've saved a trillion watt-hours of energy.

A "terabyte" is a trillion bytes.  tera = trillion

A "terawatt" is a trillion watts.  A terrawatt is a movement.  One trillion things of energy saved...for you and the earth.

Comments?  Yummy.  Questions?  Ask.  Want to join your neighbors?  You know what to do.

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Peter

Blake came to our rescue last fall when another local energy contractor’s false promises literally left us--and our drafty, heat-less, 200 year old house--out in the cold.