If It’s Sunny You’ll Save Money

Considering the fact that this blog is online, I am assuming that you are using a computer, smartphone or tablet to view this page. Now, I ask you to take a moment to reflect and think about how long you have been on this computer and how much electricity you have been using during the duration of this time. The average American spends about 5 hours a day on digital devices ( figure 1). Annually, that is a total of 1825 hours on digital media. Think about this, and think about how much it costs the average American to power their digital devices.  This means that the average American can spend up to 600 dollars just on electrical bills for their computer. However, what if there was a way to power your computer just using the environment around you?

Figure 1

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Using solar power is all the rage as individuals are discovering that they can cut back on electrical bills by using energy from the sun. Solar panels allow us to use , solar energy (a type of solar power) which comes from the sun. In doing so, solar energy can be converted into electrical energy, which can then be used to power things such as a computer and other devices which need electricity to work (figure 2).  Solar energy allows one to power devices with low cost renewable energy and using solar energy to power devices is a fairly simple process.

(Figure 2)

solar-energy-diagram

Companies such as Samsung and SOL have developed laptops that run solely on the energy from the sun. The computer developed by Samsung is powered by a solar panel embedded in the lid. In order to function the computer needs approximately 2 hours of sunlight to get 1 hour of working battery life. When fully charged, the computer battery can last up to 14 hours straight. This computer costs about $350 US dollars. Similarly the company SOL (known for developing devices using solar energy) developed a laptop which uses solar energy as well. This laptop is more efficient than the Samsung, as it is equipped with a detachable solar panel which can obtain 10 hours of battery life from just 2 hours of sun exposure (figure 3). This Laptop costs the exact same amount as the samsung computer, costing about $350 US dollars. By purchasing either of these laptops one would be purchasing a laptop $400 dollars less than the average computer and it is powered free of charge due to its solar panel technology.

Figure 3

samsung-nc215s-solar-powered-netbook

Converting to solar energy is 100% cost efficient and can end up saving you thousands of dollars (figure 4). Personally, I think that everyone should convert to solar power as it is a natural never ending resources that the earth has given us. Although one must pay for the initial cost of installing solar panels, in the long run solar panels save you up to 7 thousand dollars (figure 4). By using solar energy one can cut back on electrical bills and it makes for a more cost efficient lifestyle. Developing technology that allows computers to run on solar panels is truly revolutionary and I think that there is no better place to start converting people to using solar energy, than the devices we use on a day to day basis.

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Has Energy Wastage Really Decreased Over the Years?

Over the years technological advancements have been made with the hopes of making individuals lives easier. However, there have also been several advancements made with the hopes of helping reduce the energy wastage. The problem is that as technology advances, the price of technology increases, and the idea of trying to conserve energy becomes less appealing. According to a report in 2005, commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 38.9% of the total energy consumption in 2005 in the US. In 2005, 53.7% of the total is used by residential buildings, while the remaining 46.3% is used by commercial buildings. The US has always been the larges consumer of energy, which also leads it to be the largest contributor to energy wastage. If you look at the Figure 1 below, you can clearly see that the US uses more energy than any other country.

Figure 1.

Enerrgy-use-PerCapita

You may ask yourself why the US uses so much energy, especially when we have a smaller population that other countries. There are many reasons, but one reason is because we are the worlds leader in oil consumption, consuming up to 25% of the total oil consumption. If you look at Figure 2 you can see that not only has there has been an increase in oil consumption in the US, but also around the world.

Figure 2.

world-oil-consumption-001

Now, lets take a closer look at the US. In the United States, a majority of the energy consumption that occurs in building happens in residential buildings, such as homes and apartments. While this may make sense, it also makes it harder to fix. There are more homeowners than commercial business owners, therefore making commercial building energy efficient seems like it is an easier task. More specifically, 51% of the electricity consumed in the US occurs in residential buildings and 74.4% of the total water consumption is used by homeowners in their homes. Water consumption has doubled over a span of 50 years, from 1950 to 2000, causing the average person to use about 100 gallons of water everyday. Furthermore, 4 billion dollars is spent every year in the United States to provide energy to run drinking water and wastewater utilities. By using better efficiency equipment, we can reduce up to 10% of the cost, which is equivalent to 400 million dollars.

Going Back to what I had mentioned before, the reason that energy efficient technology is not used that often is because the price of buying energy efficient equipment is a lot more expensive. However, something that many people don’t understand is that in the long term the investment will help because it will actually help you save money.

A perfect example of this occurred in Four Seasons Resort in Maui. The resort began to make advancements in their technology which costed up to $8 million dollars, however once all of the advancements are done, the resort will save over $1 million. In the long run, not only will they gain their $8 million, but they will save much more than that.

So has Energy wastage changed over the years? In my opinion, I think that energy wastage will decrease, if it hasn’t already because of people who want to make advancements so they don’t waste $94,000 because of a leak.

A Storm Three Times The Size of Earth

If Timmy throws a ball from his front yard in Boston towards the Equator in a straight line heading south, in what country will the ball end up?

Pull out your map and look at the country that is on the Equator directly south of Boston. The answer is Columbia, right?

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Wrong!

The question seems simple; a map and a ruler should be all we need to answer it upon first glance. However, there is something else happening to the ball once Timmy throws it that makes the answer a bit more complicated. It is called the Coriolis Effect.

The Coriolis Effect describes the way objects passing over the Earth respond to the Earth’s rotation. Since the Earth rotates as a whole, the speed of rotation at the Equator is faster than that at the poles. The combination of atmospheric convection currents with the Coriolis Effect create high and low pressure systems called Hadley, Polar, and Ferrel Cells. Earth’s air is pushed and pulled through these systems due to the four major properties of air: density, water vapor capacity, adiabatic healing and cooling, and latent heat release. Objects travelling over the Earth’s surface also appear to become displaced, such as Timmy’s ball. However, Timmy’s ball is actually still moving in a straight line, while the Earth rotates under it.

So instead of landing at the end of a straight line south, Timmy’s ball would actually appear curve along the surface of the Earth and end up somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

coriolis effect ball

The ball is thrown in a straight line, but the Earth rotates beneath it.

The Coriolis Effect also has an impact on large scale storms, such as hurricanes. The air in a hurricane is transformed into the telltale whirlpool image through high- and low-pressure systems created by the Coriolis Effect. High speed rotation at the Equator pushes the air towards the poles, then the low pressure at the Equator draws the air back in.

hurricanes coriolis

 Hurricane air systems are formed by air pushed from the more rapidly rotating Equator towards the poles.

However, Earth is not the only planet that experiences the Coriolis Effect. Jupiter, in particular, has an incredibly strong Coriolis Effect due to its immense size and high speed rotation. Since Jupiter has the fastest rotation in the solar system, the force Jupiter’s Coriolis Effect is magnified. It does not have three cells of high and low pressure systems like Earth. Instead, it has bands of air that whip around its surface, creating the striped look that can be seen from outer space.

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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has recently been shrinking.

Like Earth, Jupiter’s Coriolis Effect impacts storms. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, for example, is directly at the point at which two of Jupiter’s air bands meet, creating a pressure system so great that the Great Red Spot was approximately three times larger than Earth at its largest. Recently, however, the Great Red Spot has been shrinking. Now, it is only about the size of one Earth. One hypothesis is that some activity in Jupiter’s atmosphere is drawing energy away from the storm. I think it could potentially be due to a shift in Jupiter’s Coriolis Effect, which would interfere with the meeting place between the bands of high pressure air that caused the Great Red Spot in the first place. However, scientists are not sure why it is shrinking.

The Coriolis Effect impacts so many different things in our universe: storms, air patterns, convection currents, airplanes, missiles, and even rockets, not just on Earth but on other planets as well.