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Think in Reverse

Assignment 3: Energy Systems: from the Body to the World October 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clairelester @ 3:42 pm

I found diagramming the energy I used in four hours more understandable when using two types of diagrams.  The first is a web of connections that focuses most heavily on the trail of energy flow that happens before any of my actions are completed or choices are made.  I originally began diagramming with my 4 hour schedule placed to the far left of the piece of paper, preparing to diagram what would happen as a result of these choices.  However, I slowly began to squeeze more and more connections in front of my schedule (in the left margin).  First the energy source, then the production of the source, then the raw materials, ect.  I realized from this draft of my diagram that the exact purpose of this assignment was to discover and better familiarize ourselves with the extremely complicated and long energy flow that has to occur BEFORE we make our daily choices.  In my final draft of the first diagram I placed my schedule towards the middle of the page.
The second diagram attempts to show the amounts of each source I used in the above diagram, by proportioning arrow thickness to the amount that I used in the four hour period.

The research I did on my second diagram was what helped me more accurately determine the amounts of resources I was using in the four hour period I diagrammed in the first image.  I tried to show using the sankey method the amount of each source using arrow thickness.  Looking at sankey diagram examples while researching I found the amount of lost energy that we have no control over really surprising.  I know this assignment is supposed to make us aware of the energy trail we have tied on to all of our minute actions but I couldn’t not make note of these losses.  This is the point in the infrastructural network I believe needs to be given the most attention.  The efficiency of our energy extraction from some resources (Coal/Nuclear import) can be less than 50%(energy that actually reaches us).  I believe that another renewable and more efficient energy source needs to be looked into to replace coal, or the methods of extracting coal need to drastically change.  25% of the total energy in the United States comes from coal even though it is so inefficient and is considered the world’s most polluting fossil fuel.  The extraction necessary for coal mining is also tied in first place with nuclear energy as the energy source with the most dangerous extraction process.

At the scale of habitual space the most energy I saw lost was through heating and cooling leaking out of buildings. We talked a little about this in section when we discussed some basic ways to easily reduce this occurrence. One was to not let just one material separate you from the outdoors.  A windows glass pane is an example of this and we talked about how in the winter it can be freezing in studio beside a window because the cold from outside transfers easily through just one material.  Multiple layers are much better at insulating.  Grade space and air pockets that separate you from the outdoors is taking this idea of material insulation a step further.  By creating a pocket of air separating the inhabitable space and outdoor space the air serves as an insulator in itself.  Aside from keeping the cold out, air infiltration and leakage from the home is another way heated air can be drawn from the home and wasted.  The articles on the internet that I read have seem to come to a consensus that this happens mostly from small holes and cracks in the homes joinery, the most heat being lost from the edges of walls and roofs, windows or doors.  These joints can be constructed with more precision or more insulation can be applied in specific areas.

At the scale of the individual choices I made, I found the most lost energy occured while using a gas stove.  After doing some research I found that wood stoves are much more efficient than gas stoves.  However, if I don’t want to buy a whole new stove (which I don’t, and this would also create unnecessary waste) a smaller step that can be taken to reduce this heat loss is by using a pot or pan with the same diameter as the burner.  This is such an easy change and makes complete sense.  I know this piece of information is the one way this assignment will immediately change my choice of pot or pan and I will no longer grab the closest one.

Sources:

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Img/89792/0022032.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.sankey-diagrams.com/33/&h=506&w=838&sz=22&tbnid=UZAYUSqoPd9ftM:&tbnh=77&tbnw=127&prev=/search%3Fq%3Denergy%2Bflow%2Bsankey%2Bdiagram%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=energy+flow+sankey+diagram&docid=AjvzTXMkqq4p_M&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wN6cTrOEIoKr0AGd7PSkCQ&sqi=2&ved=0CFsQ9QEwEw

http://www.danielbbotkin.com/2007/03/19/pros-and-cons/

http://www.thriftculturenow.com/money-saving-tips/6-utility-bills/188-its-time-to-be-more-frugal-with-your-energy-consumption

http://homerepair.about.com/od/heatingcoolingrepair/qt/heat_loss.htm

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