I am deriving enormous satisfaction from cutting my electric bill in half from an out-of-control high of 1,841 kilowatt hours (KWH) or $307 in January to a mere 758 KWH/$127 in April. My experiment with transmission supplier National Grid was based on replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs and shutting off the hot tub whose heater I estimate was costing at least $50 a month during the cold months here in the Northeast. Near as I can tell, the CFLs accounted for 30-40% of the drop while the lion's share goes to shutting off the hot tub which we used infrequently. My last child is headed off to college in the fall and she was the primary user. And there's a certain reluctance to don a bathing suit (or less) by the adults in household approaching a ripe middle age. No one seems to miss it and it's wooden housing stuff with insulation is largely a home for mice.
There are other ways I will cut my energy consumption. My next car will almost certainly be a Prius. As I seethed yesterday in my six cylinder powered sedan (a wonderful Mercedes E320 with 170K trouble free miles) during a crushing two hour and fifteen minute commute, I thought a hybrid would be drawing tiny amounts of power when stopped in traffic. An announcer on the radio said gas consumption is up 1.75% from a year ago as we rocket up to $4 a gallon. This is insane! Bring on the high prices, I say. Get people out of their cars. For the three years I've had this onerous commute, softened only by the 1-2 days a week I work at home, I've cursed, seethed, sighed and thrown my hands up. Thing is, I love my job at Design News. The topics it covers are truly fascinating.
Our eneergy habits have to change and I'm trying to do my part. My global warming column in the 4/30 elicited more than 40 letters and they're still coming in, many of them disagreeing with my assessement of its true and present danger. One point made several times that really bothered me was that what I do to cut my own energy consumption is insignificant. That's a horrible cop-out. We all need to kick in here.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.