Monday, June 18, 2012

Teen Essay Contest 2012: English Essay

Winner of English Essay: Tammy Ha, 10th Grade, Lowell High School
Energy Saving

Can you imagine a world without technology? Imagine not being able to communicate through your convenient cellphone. Or how about having to use snail mail rather than e-mail for emergency messages? Everywhere you look, technology surrounds us in our daily lives. Technology makes our lives more efficient and has its benefits. However, the use of it comes with risks—although it helps us keep up with our fast-paced world, energy used for advanced technology harms our environment. By saving energy through adjustments in appliances and a change of habits, however, we can minimize the emission of harmful gases and therefore reduce the damage to our planet.

Making minor adjustments to appliances we use every day can save otherwise wasted energy. For example, the use of lighting brightens up our home at night. Switching from candescent light bulbs to fluorescent ones can greatly reduce the amount of energy consumed. A fluorescent light bulb can produce the same amount of light as a candescent light bulb, but uses only a third of what a candescent one would use. Fluorescent light bulbs also last up to ten times longer, so you don’t need to buy as many bulbs and can also reduce the amount of material used to make them. Another adjustment that can be made is the temperature of your water heater. While most are set at 140 ºF, 120 ºF is acceptable as well. Lowering the temperature by 20 ºF can reduce as much as 1,200 pounds of CO2 a year. If every household made this change, the combination would prevent more than 45 million tons of CO2 emission per year.  The temperature of your refrigerator can also be adjusted to conserve energy. Approximately 20% of the electricity used in your house is for this appliance since it is always in use. Having it too cold wastes more energy than it has to, so you should adjust the temperature of your refrigerator to about 37 ºF and 5 ºF. While the refrigerator has to always be plugged in, other appliances do not. Unplug all appliances that are not in use, such as a microwave or toaster, since they still use energy when plugged in. When shopping for new appliances, you can also check the product for the Energy Star logo to buy products that use energy efficiently and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. Although the household appliances that make our lives more efficient also use up a lot of energy, making small adjustments can lead to an overall change in the amount of energy consumed and level of greenhouse gases emitted.

Conserving water is also a great way to save energy. "Water heating is the third most energy consuming function in the home," according to statistics from the Department of Energy. When doing laundry, you should always try to wash with a full load so that you can clean more clothes while using less energy and water. Also, use cold water whenever possible so you don’t have to use heated water. When showering, try to limit the amount of time you spend. Cut back on your shower time and using warm water instead of hot. After washing your hands or showering, remember to completely turn off the faucet. If it is leaky, fix it. Conserving water not only lowers your water bill, but also helps to reduce the energy needed to bring running water to your home.

When around the house, take notice of electronics that use energy when unnecessary. Unplug all devices that are not in use, such as game consoles or your television. If not unplugged, they continue to consume energy 24/7. This is called “standby power,” and can account for up to 10% of the energy used in your house. You can also turn off the lights of an unoccupied room since it would otherwise be wasted electricity. For phones, unplug the charger after the battery is full. You can also do this other electronics, such as laptops or iPods. Leaving the device charging only wastes energy, much like the standby mode of your unplugged TV.

An electronic that you can also change to save a lot of electricity is your laptop or computer. According to one source, "the emissions by computers account for 2% of world's total carbon dioxide emissions, almost equal to that contributed by aviation.” It’s no wonder, since our computers are used so much for work and leisure. Some people like to leave a computer on when they’re gone for a bit so that when they get back, it will be easier to continue what they were doing before. In this way, they do not have to go through the trouble of turning off and on the computer. It stays on with a screensaver and continues to waste valuable electricity. One alternative is putting your computer to sleep, which still uses energy, but less than if you just left your computer on. But you can also choose hibernate, which saves all your files and does not use energy. When you get back, it resumes in the way you left it. In this way, you have your convenience while cutting back on energy consumption and your electricity bills. You can also make sure to unplug your computer when not in use or your laptop when done charging. My laptop also has an option, the Samsung eco mode, which “minimizes the damage done to the environment by minimizing CO2 emissions and energy consumption.” You can make a great difference to the environment by changing the way you use your computer.

By making small adjustments to appliances and conserving energy by limiting the use of water and electronics, we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. In turn, we can help save our planet from pollution. Technology has certainly changed the way we communicate and made life easier through efficient household appliances, but it has also lead to an environmental crisis. If we don’t educate ourselves on easy ways to reduce energy use, our planet will further be polluted. Only then can you really imagine a world without technology. Because there won’t be one anymore.

No comments: