Turn off the lights, II

My Turn off the lights post generated a few comments. They got me thinking so let me share my thoughts.

From Debbie F:

They are also the same people who leave all the lights in the house on and all computer equipment/music equipment on all the time. And yet they go on about how the environment needs to be protected.

I admit that I leave my computers on all the time. I’ve been thinking about this lately because although the computers are not just idling, the air-conditioner has to work to counteract the heat they produce in the summer before it can get to the heat coming in from outside. In the winter I have less trouble with the situation because I need heat anyway. Using waste heat appeals to me as a form of recycling.

I’ll see how it works if I turn off the computers while the air-conditioner is running this summer.

All that said, I don’t claim to be an environmentalist so my actions aren’t quite as contradictory as some others’.

The disconnect between people’s actions and beliefs always amazes me.

This will be the largest issue to overcome. People are both lazy and more willing to forgive themselves a transgression than they are willing to forgive others. “The world’s not going to end because I drive an SUV, now is it?” This aspect of human nature is why I believe any large move toward carbon-dioxide reduction by individuals will not happen simply because it’s the right thing to do. If it happens, it will be because not making the move will be more trouble or more expensive.

At the same time however, I am not comfortable with the government simply applying a tax to make gasoline more expensive. People are falling over themselves to forecast the end of civilization because of the high cost of gasoline, yet the single largest component of the cost of each litre of fuel is tax. It’s a tax that was designed to go toward maintenance of the road system, but do you think it still does?

Make it cost-efficient to be green and people will go along gladly.

From Shawn:

Kids in my house pay a penalty ($0.25) for each light, TV, etc. left on when they leave the room.

See? The kids can avoid returning a sizable portion of their allowance by simply turning the lights off. They learn a good habit that I imagine has a chance of serving them long after they stop receiving an allowance.

From WTL:

if you have empty space in your freezer/fridge, fill pop bottles (or apple cider bottles) with water and put them in as heat sinks. Works wonders.

I’ve thought about this a fair bit. It seems logical that if the refrigerator cools these bottles, they certainly will absorb heat while the refrigerator idles. The refrigerator will stay cool longer, and therefore idle longer, so it will cost less to operate, right?

Not so fast. Once the bottles absorb heat, the refrigerator will start up again, even if after a longer idle period, and those bottles need to be cooled again. This should require more energy than if the bottles weren’t there. All else being equal, I imagine the bottles would lengthen the idle period, but also lengthen the time the refrigerator has to work to cool its contents. It should work out even, assuming no loss in the system.

Have you found a definite cost saving using these heatsinks, Thomas? If so, I wonder where my logic is faulty.

One thought to “Turn off the lights, II”

  1. Update: We tallied up allowance last night and in the past few weeks, no deductions were made for leaving lights on. This is now the norm, not the exception. I win!, no wait, we all win.

    Oh, and SHAME on David Suzuki for suggesting that taxes are a great form of behavior modification. I guess when you are wealthy, you can afford to pay more.

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