Make Energy Under Your Mattress

So everyone is into saving energy these days right? I'm saving it, you're saving it, the neighbors are saving it, who isn't saving it? I suppose that may only be half-true, because half the time I can hardly afford it, so I am not so much saving it as not buying it at all.Obviously that makes the entrepreneurial among us seek out new ways to generate power and I have seen some interesting efforts, to say the least. For example, [Vodou practioners in rural Haiti][1] are proponents of the herb "Jatropha." While they have used it for generations to "purge spirits and release trapped souls from the dead," a new use is gaining interest. Apparently, [the oil in the seeds can be converted to bio-diesel.][2] Jatropha, as with other biofuels, also produces much lower carbon emissions. But the most important aspect is that it is non-edible, or at least is not widely consumed making it an excellent alternative to turning corn and other edible crops into fuel rather than food.Folks in the Netherlands are working on turning ["the ultimate fast-growing organism"][3] into clean energy as well. An article last year noted that Boeing and several airlines have teamed up and are exploring the value in extracting the oil from algae to produce a highly efficient biofuel. The alternative energy expert at Boeing estimate that harvesting oil from algae in [an area around the size of Maryland could reduce carbon emissions from aviation to zero.][4] ![][5]Now, before you get too excited about this, note that it may be completely absurd. It is a bit old, but I just stumbled across it and figured you might want to consider the implications. A group of more-tech-savvy-than-I people got together and determined that an all white web page requires 74 watts of energy to display. An all black page needs 59 watts. Multiplying the 15 watts difference by the approximately 200,000,000 hits Google receives each day, and the theory suggests that 3,000 megawatt hours per year could be saved on standard cathode ray monitors (about 25% of total computer monitors). That is just from [switching Google from white to black.][6] I don't know for sure, but my guess is flat panel monitors use more energy (judging by the heat emitted). Anybody have any thoughts on that?![][7]Finally, I also noticed that even the Vatican is getting in on the act. Solar World, a German-based company, has donated [$1.5 million worth of solar panels to the Vatican.][8] The panels have replaced aging roof tiles on top of Paul VI auditorium, and will produce enough energy to "light, heat or cool" the hall. It would be nice to see either of the presidential candidates announce their intentions to install solar panels on top of the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and as many federal buildings across the country as possible. Subsidies for state and local government buildings would be even better. D.C. may not have as much sun per year as Phoenix, but solar energy could reduce the need for non-renewable sources.UPDATE: If you missed the Lawrence Energy Conservation Fair yesterday, you have missed out once again. Fear not, you can [read about the event][9] and [see a list of vendors complete with their websites][10] as well.Next time, some thoughts on the energy plans of the presidential nominees. [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]: [8]: [9]: [10]:


Shelby 14 years, 1 month ago

If there's one thing I liked about Jimmy Carter (and there pretty much IS only one), it's the strides he took for energy breaks for solar-powering one's house, etc.

malehrman 14 years, 1 month ago

Good to know, thank you for the update. I didn't realize Reagan really had it out for our environment.

Jill Ensley 14 years, 1 month ago

You mean, I could go to the store AND release trapped souls from the dead?! WIN-WIN.I kid, but that is really interesting.

matt 14 years, 1 month ago

Actually President Carter installed solar panels on the roof back in 1977, one of Reagan's first official acts was removing them and reversing most of Carter's energy policies. They were partially reinstalled in 2002 when some roofing had to be replaced anyway, and now heat the White House's water and pool, as well as providing power to the grounds.

frankwiles 14 years, 1 month ago

Actually LCDs use about 1/2 to 1/3rd the electricity of an average CRT monitor. They also run a bit cooler than LCDs which cuts down on the heat your AC has to deal with in the summer. Granted the average energy savings of a LCD over a CRT is about $20-30 per year per monitor depending on where you live.

Jill Ensley 14 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, that asshole peanut-farmer, trying to do "good" for "people". Whos he think he is anyway.

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