Energy powers the world — it’s what keeps us warm or cool, cooks our food, powers our electronics, and gets us from place to place. That’s why we set out on our Channel One “Power Trip” to find out more about oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear power, and renewables.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken you with us as we’ve climbed a wind turbine, toured a nuclear power plant, walked the tunnels of Hoover Dam, and visited a retired off-shore oil rig. But the more stops we made on our Power Trip, the more we realized that our choices about energy can have a big impact on our health, our national security, our environment, and even our wallets.
So what can you do to help solve the “energy crisis?”
A simple way to start is by conserving energy when you don’t need it and using it efficiently when you do. Here are some suggestions for getting started:
Unplug. This goes for appliances you aren’t using, cell phones that don’t need to be charged, and power strips that don’t need to be on. Not only will you save energy, but you could also save 10 bucks every month on your family’s utility bill. Mom and Pops will be proud.
Turn off the lights. You don’t need them when you’re not in the room, and you can always use daylight if the sun is out.
Take control of the temperature. When it’s hot, close your blinds, turn on the fan, or open the vents. When it’s cold, make sure your windows are closed, and don’t leave your door open. There are a lot of little things you can do around your homes and schools to minimize your use of air conditioning and heat.
Recycle. It almost always takes less energy to make a product from recycled materials than it does to make it from new materials. For example, making a ton of paper from recycled paper saves up to 17 trees and uses 50% less water.
Walk or ride your bike instead of taking a car or school bus. Using fewer fossil fuels is always a good thing.
Go the extra mile. If you’re feeling ambitious, look for products that can help you conserve energy — these include compact fluorescent light bulbs, weatherizers, fresh filters, and low-flow shower heads. Keep your eyes out for the “Energy Star” label when you’re shopping.
One last thing to do is research. Scientists are constantly finding better ways to harness, store, and use power, but we still have a long way to go if we want to solve the energy crisis. Maybe you want to increase the safety of nuclear power plants, reduce the footprint of coal mines, minimize the risks of oil and gas drilling, or improve the efficiency of renewables.
Or maybe you want to find brand new ways to create energy. Whatever your energy interests are, there are plenty of opportunities to pursue your passion. And you never know — the answer to a “clean energy future” might just lie in your hands.