Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Flip Them Off - By Jimmy Petrol

Go outside sometime and find your electric meter; watching it go around and around is almost as good as watching the clothes in a big washer tumble around, or fish in an aquarium wriggle back and forth in their little universe. Nearly as fun, but start counting the revolutions on the electric meter in pennies, dimes and nickels; now it's only fun for the utility company. For you it sucks. Every revolution of that little wheel sucks a little more money out of your pocket. Remember, lots of our electricity comes from coal-burning electrical plants located nearby. We burn coal to make electricity...this is not a green thing.

So get it and flip them off....all the little things that make that nasty, ever-spinning, cash-depleting wheel turn. Here are the things that make it go in most of our houses, in the order of their appetite for electricity:

Large appliances, like: air-conditioning, heating, stoves, clothes dryers, water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves and refrigerators.

Small appliances next: toasters, coffee pots, electric can openers (if you use an electric can opener and don't have arthritis, stop it) televisions, computers, stereos and the like. All the little things we use for a little while.

After all those big and little machines come the lights. Lights make up the smallest energy use for most of us, but it is a big number when we add it up for all of us all at once. It takes a horrible amount of coal-burning to spin the turbines to light our nights.

Here's how the numbers work: there are may be as many as a million of us in the Tucson area ( the 2000 census says there are 486,699 humans in Tucson proper). A cool million...easy to do the math on this one. If you are alone in your house and you have on one extra light, just one, and we all do the same lame-o thing, leaving lights on where we are not just because we can, then there are one million extra lights burning in Tucson. One million lights that we don't have to have on....hell of a big fire to spin those turbines to make a million little nasty lights burn for no reason. Hell of a fire. Get my drift? Anybody believe in the Hereafter? Your gonna go to Hell if you burn that extra light; the Devil's gonna get you, sure. All we have to do is turn them off to save a lot of coal. Pretty easy...just one light each.

After we all run into the back room and Flip It Off, can we rest? Nope. Still a lot of coal going up in smoke so we can watch the clothes go ‘round and the fish jiggle frenetically in the aquarium. Edison started the light bulb business with bulbs almost exactly like the ones you are probably using for most of your light. Funny that a population that replaces computers (that most don't use to compute) every time a new chip comes out settles for stone-age light bulbs.

There are (surprise!) new light bulbs called compact fluorescent that put out (approximately) three times the lumens-per-watt! And, they last about ten times as long as regular (incandescent) bulbs. The 60-watt incandescent and the 18-watt fluorescent give off about 1000 lumens each, for example. Sixty watts burning...or 18 watts....same light...compact fluorescent lasts ten times as long and is therefore even to do, what to do! Oh My Head! Such a dilemma! Get yourself down to one of the Big Box stores and make use of the warehouse philosophy; buy those new-fangled light bulbs by the ten-pack (just like beer, sort of...).

Next comes all the other really don't need me to tell you most of it. Turn off everything when you are done with it. No-brainer. Don't use machines you don't need (Dante, perhaps would have provided a special level in his Hades for the electric-can-opening-monkeys, right next to the electric carving-knife murderers). Hang up stuff that takes forever to dry, like the little bathroom rugs and the fake sheepskin bedspread. Use a motion sensor on the porch light instead of leaving it on all night. Really, it is easy...just keep thinking about that hellacious coal-fire and those busy, busy, spinning turbines....all going, all the time....slow them down!

Remember, burn less coal here and maybe I can get you a cooler spot in the Hereafter. I'll check with the Pope. When he comes out.

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