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)

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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

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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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Efficient Energy Please, the Japanese Do it with Ease

Everyone these days seems to be obsessed with saving energy. The word “sustainability” and “go green” seem to be all that were hearing these days. Some people hear these ideas of being energy efficient and it goes straight in one ear and out the other. Some countries however, truly want to create  a sustainable, energy efficient environment, and currently Japan sets the highest standard as the most energy efficient country (Figure 1).

Figure 1:

Most-Energy-Efficient-Countries

Japan has always prided itself off being 30 years ahead of other global super powers in terms creating an energy efficiency initiative. After the 1970 increase in oil price (figure 2) it was evident that “if something wasn’t done, life wouldn’t be sustainable” . Japan and several other countries suffered economically and Japan’s economy in particular “was on the brink of collapsing. This prompted the Japanese government to take initiative and increase energy efficiency across their country.

Figure 2:

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The Japanese government has had a great influence over the Japanese people and their energy efficiency. In doing so, the government established several movements and laws in hopes of creating a sustainable country. Several conservation laws were passed forcing factories to replace old inefficient boilers and assembly-line machinery with new energy efficient equipment. There is also a law put into place which requires each factory to hire an individual who is in charge of overseeing factory energy efficiency. This is a very demanding job as by law, Japanese factories are required to become more energy efficient by one percent every year.  Japanese individuals have also started movements such “Setsudan” which emerged to “encourage people and companies to conserve energy and prevent rolling power cuts”. Japanese individuals will increase temperatures in homes and offices, thin lighting by removing some of the bulbs, and stop using big screen and exterior lighting in hopes of cutting back on energy.  These cut backs in energy use are obviously working as”Japan’s industrial sector uses the same amount of energy as 40 years ago, despite the dramatic economic growth since then”. These laws and movements have now become a Japanese way of life as most families live and operate in energy efficient manners.

Japan faces extreme temperatures in the Summer however typical Japanese families rarely uses their Air Conditioners. Most Japanese have AC units in every room of their homes. In doing so this enables them to save energy in the long run. AC units are only turned on in rooms which are occupied this saves more energy compared to having constant central air. Not only this, but the Japanese also have power strips with individual on/off switches so that their appliances won’t waste energy. Most families also purchase LED lights as well to conserve light energy. Families even save water by sharing bathwater; some individuals even have bathtubs that talk to them and warn them when they are wasting energy (figure 3) . Families are also prompted to conserve energy because of the high energy bills which costs twice as much in Japan as in the US, because Japan imports nearly all of it’s fossil fuels. 

Figure 3:

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No matter what the motivation is for the Japanese, whether it is fear of high energy bills, or the fear of living in an unsustainable environment, Japan is setting a great example for the rest of the world in terms of energy efficiency.  In fact, recently Obama mentioned Japan as a country we should strive to be like in terms of our own energy consumption in the US.  Although it could take sometime, I am very hopeful that with some new laws and green initiatives, the US can soon become a green, sustainable country which excels in energy efficiency as well.

Want to Be More Creative? Get Immersed in the Nature!

Nowadays many people spend lots of time indoor. Different social medias are taking away our opportunities to go out and explore the nature. Today’s children only spend around 20 minutes per day outside and this time continues to drop. The number of visits in both national parks and nature-based recreation has decline since 1980s. The modern life we are living now is much better than the one our ancestors had, but are we not missing out the benefits the beautiful nature might give us?

The study by Strayer and University of Kansas psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and Paul Atchley has shown that immersion in natural settings could improve creativity. The study involved 56 people, with 30 men and 26 women at an average age of 28. These study objects were divided into 8 different groups to participate in hiking trips without any technology from 4 days to 6 days in Alaska, Colorado, Maine and Washington state. Among these 8 groups, 4 groups (pre-hike groups) took a 10-item creativity test the morning before the trip and the other 4 groups (in-hike groups) took the same test the morning of the fourth day. The in-hike groups had a much higher average score on the test – they got a 6.08 compared to a 4.14. There are actually two factors in this experiment – nature and technology. There is no direct evidence to determine whether the study objects’ problem solving ability is improved by the increased exposure to nature or decreased exposure to technology. However, the researchers believe that these two factors are strongly interrelated to each other that they are often seen as two sides of a coin.

It does not matter whether nature immersion experience directly or indirectly, by reduce use of technology, affects one’s creativity. What really matters is that we need to understand how important it is for us to connect with the nature. Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods and The Natural Principle, believes that connection to nature should be seen as a human right. I agree with him. I think today we are trying so hard to draw the line between nature and the human society but we forget the fact that we are also part of nature. I really appreciate the opportunities like hiking in the desert or sitting in the woods for twenty minutes. It helps me to feel connected to the nature.

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Trekking in Wadi Rum, Jordan

 

Bibliography

 

Atchley RA, Strayer DL, Atchley P (2012) Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51474. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051474

Howard, Brian Clark, ed. “Connecting With Nature Boosts Creativity and Health.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2014. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/06/130628-richard-louv-nature-deficit-disorder-health-environment/&gt;.

“Nature Nurtures Creativity.” U News Center. U of Utah, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2014. <http://unews.utah.edu/news_releases/nature-nurtures-creativity-2/&gt;.