Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quenching the Light at Schools

Because I am now a confirmed subliminal supporter of Earth Day, it stands to reason that I would be a rabid supporter of the latest trendiness in Earth Day support - namely, working and learning in darkness.

Many public office buildings and schools throughout Taiwan will turn off their lights for one hour from noon to 1 p.m. today to mark World Earth Day today and to promote energy conservation.

Today, students from across the Sudbury region will plant trees, pick up garbage, eat a litter-free lunch, turn off classroom lights, collect used batteries and promote composting and recycling.

Zeise said the [University of Wisconsin] student chapter [of We Conserve] is also running an online pledge program, through which students can pledge to turn off lights or shut down computers to save energy. She added they have more than 1,000 pledges so far and hope to have 2,000 by the end of the semester.

But what about when they are there?

Mort Elementary [in Florida] will celebrate Earth Day with a blackout. For one hour, 50 classrooms will turn off their lights. Teachers will discuss how one class can make a difference. Instruction will continue without the lights on, using only natural light.

But all of these people are Johnny-come-latelys. Earth Hour was held last month:

At approximately 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 28, Lester B. Pearson High School turned off some of its lights in order to conserve energy for Earth Hour, which officially took place the following day.

And of course, this is good and wonderful. Unfortunately, I cannot find the link for something briefly mentioned on Handel on the News (KFI) this morning, in which students at one school (a college or university, I think) were going around ENFORCING the lights-off rule. Because colleges promote Uniformity of Thought, of course.

But the important thing is the savings, both in energy and in finances. And the finances add up:

A 60W bulb running for one hour will use 60 watt-hours, or 0.06 kWh, so that will cost 0.06x0.15 = $0.009 or 0.9 cents. Similarly, a 100W bulb for an hour will use 0.1 kWh which is 1.5 cents.

This assumed US$0.15 per kilowatt-hour, which is what the writer's electric utility was charging in 2004. But classrooms, of course, generally use flourescent lights.

If you use long life fluorescent globes they typically use around 10 watts so the cost is about 0.015c/hour (over 70 hours for a cent.)

So if an entire elementary school shuts off the lights while teaching for an hour, the net savings is...a few cents.

Don't you feel empowered now? But don't worry, because you'll benefit from Uniformity of Thought. Which is good, because then you won't be confronted with posts like this, which appeared in my Google search under the title "Just Say NO To Earth Day":

This posting has been flagged for removal

(The title on the listings page will be removed in just a few minutes.)

Thank you, Portland Craigslist, for protecting me from Incorrect Thought.

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