Some use the terms power and energy interchangeably...
However, these terms represent very different, but related concepts.
Power is the rate at which energy is consumed, expressed in watts or kilowatts.
Energy is the amount of power consumed, expressed in watt-hours or kilowatt-hours (kWh).
To understand energy use, and consequently our utility bills, we must factor in the amount of power devices and appliances use and how long we use them.
Let’s look at the example of a typical light fixture outside your front door with a 60 watt light bulb. Sixty watts is the amount of power the lamp consumes, or the rate at which the lamp uses energy. If you run a 60 watt light bulb from dusk to dawn for 12 hours, you will consume 720 watt-hours of energy (or 0.72 kilowatt-hours).
In Southwest Florida we currently pay around 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, so that light bulb would cost 7.2 cents per night, or $26.28 annually.
If you look at your utility bill, you will see that you are charged for the number of kilowatt-hours (KWH) that you consume.
This is the amount of energy consumed between meter readings. To reduce the energy you use, you must either reduce the amount of power you use, or the amount of time you use that power (or both!)
Energy = Power x Time
Going back to our light bulb example, you could install a light bulb that uses less power, or you could reduce the number of hours it runs. Both courses of action would reduce the energy used and save you money. Here are three different ideas to save energy and money.
1) Replace the bulb with a 13W compact fluorescent with equivalent light output (reduce power).
Energy Saved: 0.56 kilowatt hours daily, or $20.58 saved annually
2) Put the light on a timer and run for just 6 hours nightly (reduce time).
Energy saved: 0.36 kilowatt hours daily, or $13.14 saved annuall
3) Do both of the above (reduce power and time).
Energy Saved: 0.64 kilowatt hours daily, or $23.43 saved annually
While power and energy are intimately connected, they are not the same.
Understanding the difference can help you save money!
In my next article, I will take this concept one step further and explain why you should think twice when trying to be “energy efficient.”
As renewable and solar energy continue to gain global awareness one of the most common questions people have is:
"How Do I Power My Home From the Sun?"
The answer is with a Solar Electric Photovoltaic System.
Solar Electric Photovoltaic Systems, sometimes referred to as PV Systems, have many benefits:
- Reduce your electric bill.
- Take advantage of tax benefits and rebates.
- Help our country become less dependent on fossil fuels.
- And - Watch your meter spin backward (we never get tired of this!)
Nationwide, electricity rates have increased an average of 4.4% per year over the past 35 years, twice that rate in some parts of the country.
At the local level, Florida Power & Light (FPL) is asking for a $1.3 billion annual increase in base rates, which amounts to about $12.40 per month for the first 1,000-kilowatt hours used.
FPL dubiously notes that declining fuel costs will more than offset that increase for its customers. Regulators will vote on the increase in the beginning of 2010. As you probably know, the Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) is not an energy producer and their goal is to buy all of their power from FPL within the next couple of years. This means rising prices at FPL will be passed onto LCEC and its customers.
One way to offset the inevitable rise in the cost of electricity is to become a small-scale energy producer at your home and/or business. Incorporating solar hot water and solar electricity (or PV) technologies into residential and commercial buildings can significantly offset the rising price of fossil fuels. As you move towards less reliance on nonrenewable energy from the large utility corporations, you´ll gain some independence from the utility companies, reduce your monthly bills, and minimize the impact our energy use has on the environment.
The first step is to apply the basic principles of conservation and efficiency to all of your energy choices. Then consider your energy appetite and needs, your site, and the resources available to you. A solar thermal system to heat hot water for the home, business, and/or pool can reduce about a third of your electric bill. Photovoltaics or solar electric will generate free electricity for decades and allow you to send power back to the grid. Think through your renewable energy choices carefully, speak with a solar professional, and evaluate how you can become a small-scale energy producer as there are numerous options.
You will immediately start saving money with solar technologies because the energy from the sun is free so rates will never increase!
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