Electricity, Pollution and Solar Lights

How much energy do you figure you use on a yearly basis? What considerations do you make with respect to energy (electricity) consumption in and around your home? How much do you really understand about the creation of electricity and what happens when you continue to use it? What kind of efforts are you making at home to cut your energy costs … why should you make any effort at all? Well, enough with the questions, now let’s read a little about why you might want to ponder them.

Within the US, the majority of the electricity produced is created by the combustion of non-renewable resources. Coal and natural gas are the two primary sources of electricity in America, and as you know, the combustion of these resources causes irreversible damage to our ecosystem. Power stations that rely on fossil-fuel combustion release not only carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but also sulphur oxides, nitrogen and nitrogen oxides. When we take a look at power stations that rely on the combustion of coal, we can add mercury to the list of by-products created by the production of electricity.

Ok, so exactly how much of our electricity is derived from methods that are badly damaging our atmosphere? Let’s take a look at the breakdown for the year 2009 below:

1- Coal was the primary source of electricity, responsible for 44.9% of the electricity generated in the United States.

2- Natural Gas is the runner up at 23.4%

So, the top two producers of electricity in the US are non-renewable resources, both of which cannot be replaced (so, we’ll eventually run out) and their combustion creates a significant contribution to the alteration of our atmosphere’s composition. Sixty eight point three percent of the electricity produced in America has a substantial negative impact on the entire planet. Additionally, a further 1% can be added to this total, thanks to the combustion of petroleum to produce electricity. 69.3% of 2009’s electricity produced in the US was derived from these non-renewable energy sources. That’s pretty shocking, and globally it’s quite devastating.

Let’s think about our own use of electricity. Most of us are connected to the grid, that’s just the way things are. We haven’t really given a whole lot of thought to what the consumption of electricity really means, other than its impact on our bank account when it’s time to pay the electric bill. We now have a few more things to consider when turning on the dryer at a time when clothes can be hung outside, or turning the lights on in the evening when most of them are likely unnecessary. Interestingly, the electricity burned by using just lights can account for nearly one fifth of the electricity used within the United States. Would you agree that a good portion of that is pretty needless?

We’ve now learned a little about how the use of conventional electricity comes at a cost that far exceeds just dollars, but what control do we really have over any of what we’ve covered in this article? Our best response to that question is pretty simple: reduction. It’s pretty obvious that the majority of us are dependent upon electricity to run our homes – this is just a reality of today’s world – however, it is well within our grasp to not only reduce our consumption of fossil-fuel produced electricity, but to also increase our consumption of electricity produced by clean, renewable resources.

Our sun’s rays transport an incredible amount of energy to our planet. Just to put it out there, the energy we receive from the sun, for free, is roughly equivalent to one thousand times the energy consumed on our planet on a yearly basis. Evidently, we’re burning up dwindling resources to create expensive, dirty energy while free, clean energy is available in quantities that far surpass our needs. How are we turning a blind eye to this? Who really thinks this is a reasonable, logical, globally-feasible choice?

Solar power is certainly not a new concept, and I’m willing to wager that everybody is well aware of its existence. Again, most of us aren’t in a position to relinquish our dependence on the power grid, but most of us are in a position to make an impact by reducing our consumption. As mentioned earlier, almost 20% of the electricity used in the US is consumed by lights, and seeing as the use of lights is largely optional, it would stand to reason that using them far less is the best, and easiest place for all of us to start.

Solar lights are one of the most readily available, and affordable, means of capturing some of that free energy the sun has been providing since the dawn of time. Make no mistake when you read here that solar lights can definitely make a huge impact on not only your electricity bill, but more importantly, our life on this planet. Take a look at civilization the next time you’re out and about at night – everything is illuminated! Driving through communities, you won’t help but notice that most homes are lit up … pretty well everyone has exterior lights powered up on their homes. When have you ever been driving through a community that was in complete darkness, regardless of the time?

In the past, I’ve been guilty of succumbing to the notion that solar lights were a merely a neat little novelty item that I could simply stick in the ground to pretty things up, and I’m sure I am not alone. The fact is that these days, solar lights are available in varieties that surpass my former ill-informed notion. Outdoor garden lighting is simply one way to introduce solar lights to your home, but did you realize you can easily install solar yard lights to illuminate your home and property, or that you can implement the use of a solar security light with a motion sensor for use, at say, your front door?

Many new homes are now built with exterior lighting that’s designed to add decorative value to the homes’ exteriors. We’ll often see homes drenched in light for the purpose of showing off the architectural value and design of the home. The use of low voltage lights is favored by many for this purpose, but I still beg to ask why ANY exterior lights are powered by “electricity”. Although low voltage lights are a far better alternative to ordinary lights, they still rely on power provided by fossil fuel combustion. Solar powered lights are available to replace virtually any light you turn on outside, and obviously only rely on the power of the sun.

Today, there is simply no need to use conventional electricity to power outside lights. Solar powered lights are available for use in pretty much every outdoor and home exterior application that you can imagine. Solar lights our way to a future that is clean and free, but we first need to take advantage of the opportunity solar power provides in any way that we can – we’re starting to run out of excuses.

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