Week Five: Electricity
Congratulations—you have taken the Week Five Action Quiz. Your score is 456, which means you've promised to take the annual equivalent of 0.05 cars off the road.
"The electricity we generate is responsible for 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, making it the largest single source overall. As demand for electricity has risen, so have greenhouse-gas emissions, increasing by 25 percent over the last two decades, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. That's because most of our electrical-power supply comes from burning fossil fuels—natural gas, oil, and, especially, coal, a huge CO2 culprit.
>>The typical incandescent light bulb turns only about 10 percent of its electricity into light. The rest is wasted heat. Compact fluorescent lamps—energy-efficient bulbs—use two-thirds less energy and produce 70 percent less heat. If every American household replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a CFL, we'd prevent 800,000 cars' worth of greenhouse-gas emissions. Click here for CFL-shopping tips. Exchanging three frequently used incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs saves about 150 pounds of CO2 a year per person.
>>Unplugging your electronics when they’re not in use or using a power strip to shut them down saves about 500 pounds of CO2 a year per person.
>>Unplugging external battery chargers for MP3 players, cell phones, and the like saves 213 pounds of CO2 a year per person."
I pledged to replace three light bulbs with CFLs. I have additional motivation to do this because we've replaced the light bulbs in our kitchen at least 5 times this year alone. I don't know if it's a wiring issue or a bad luck issue or what, but we had bulbs in our old apartment that we only changed once or twice during the entire two-year span that we lived there. I also promised to buy an Energy Star cordless phone, television, and / or refrigerator if we buy any of those items in the next year, and to unplug phone and battery chargers when they're not in use (we do that already).
Just now, I tried to do the math and figure out if I'm going to reach the goal set by the challenge. I was mistakenly thinking from week to week that it was 20 pounds or 20 cars' worth or something, so I was convinced I wasn't going to "win." I checked, though, and the goal is to reduce your carbon usage by 20%. Now, I'm not very good at math, but here's what I've got:
The initial quiz told me that I use 11,411.32 pounds of carbon per year, which is equivalent to the emissions from 1.12 cars.
If I add up the equivalent-to-cars numbers from each week so far, I get 0.09 + 0.08 + 0.05 + 0.06 + 0.05 = 0.33 cars' worth of emissions. Unless I'm screwing this up, 20% of 1.12 cars is 0.224 cars...so I've already succeeded! Woohoo!
I also noticed that the opening page states that they're only sending free T-shirts to the first 500 people to complete the challenge. Does that mean the first 500 to complete the quiz on the last day? Or are they awarding T-shirts as people reach 20%? I'm just curious, since I exceeded 20% last week without realizing it, and even though I don't actually need a free T-shirt, it would be kind of cool to actually win something (I never, ever win drawings or arbitrary contests. Or BINGO, come to think of it. Hmmm...)
Speaking of climate and CO2, An Inconvenient Truth came out on DVD today, so go rent it if you haven't seen it. The bibliophile and I saw it when it was in theaters, and it's definitely thought-provoking.