Assignment 3: Energy Diagrams

On a typical summer day in the Hampton Roads area, I awaken from my sleep thanks to an alarm clock. I then proceed to take a hot shower and watch TV. I begin to text on my cell phone and relax inside the comfortable house due to the air conditioning that is cooling the air inside the house. I begin to feel hungry and turn on the stove to cook my lunch. Everything I just did required some sort of energy. Where did it come from?

Energy arises from the collection of, burning, and combining of elements to produce a reaction that release energy. This energy is then used to turn generators and produce electricity which is distributed to customers throughout the region. For me, the regional power plant is the Surry Nuclear Power Plant, in Surry County. Nuclear power plants produce energy by splitting atoms and the reaction of splitting releases a large amount of energy to run turbines and generators. Dominion Power regulates the output of electricity for the state of Virginia. As the electricity makes its way from the power plant, it begins to lose energy because no insulation is one hundred percent efficient in the capacity to retain energy. It makes its way to the local power grid, where it then is directed to the house and out of the outlets. Every appliance use a different amount of electricity and has a different efficiency in retain that energy for use. A cell phone is more efficient than an oven because of the amount of energy a cell phone is able to store.

The diagram explains the energy consumption as well as the energy lost throughout the system. Some waste, such as water, is renewable, while others like the nuclear rods are nonrenewable. Anyone can have an impact, large or small within the web of energy. At the human scale, I can use milder water when showering to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the water. On a larger scale of the house, we can use air ventilation  to cool the house instead of an air conditioning unit. This lessens the pressure on the electrical grid as well as lessens the amount of air lost through the insulation of the house. On the largest scale, the regional, instead of using nuclear power to generate electricity, we can rely on solar power to generate electricity. This lowers or eliminates waste energy due to the fact that the sun is a renewable source. It also doesn’t run the risk of causing cancer (maybe skin cancer) due to a malfunction. If everyone makes these little changes, we can lessen our energy waste and create a safer way of harvesting energy.

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One Response to Assignment 3: Energy Diagrams

  1. Tracie C. says:

    In drawing your diagram, I think it might help to see the greater energy implications that occur through everyday actions if you think of each object/action has a starting point. For example, in looking at a cell phone, don’t just think of it in terms of wasting energy because it also uses energy as well, converting it into other types of energy (i.e. electric to heat) that then become part of a larger system of energy flows. As for things that are renewable such as water from your shower, it might good to trace how that water works through the system; where it comes from, where it goes, how it reenters the larger system grid to be reused. Doing this might show where system design might be changed so as to make water use more efficient on a whole scale vs individual use.

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