Feb 20

Energy Accountability–Preface

Tag: energy efficiencymattholmes @ 5:15 am

 The front cover of the March National Geographic Magazine is titled "Saving Energy: It Starts at Home".  The article follows a few families trying to track and reduce their carbon emissions, by measuring and reducing their energy usage.  The article describes how these families have a hard time figuring out how much energy they are actually using, where it’s all going, and what techniques can legitimately alter their consumption. 

On the sailboat, we can instantly measure the energy savings of any flip of any switch.  I got fired up reading the article, because I realized that we have so much more real information and feedback to offer.  The sailboat is a miniature model of a self-sufficient society, complete with energy creation, storage, and consumption, and it’s all on a scale that can be measured and monitored and understood.  We make our own electricity and we store it in batteries.  And we can track every bit of energy that we make and every bit that we consume. 

Moreover, when we are out in the middle of an ocean, tracking our energy usage will not be some leisure exercise without consequence, as it was in the Nat Geo article.  If we don’t make enough energy with our few sources, or if we use too much energy with lights or the radio or any number of other devices, then the important systems on our boat will turn off.  Our lights will go out, our navigation instruments will go dead, we won’t even be able to start the engine.  Sure, we can always keep moving–provided there is wind–but we would be loathe to do so without such basic safety items requirements as nav lights at night, a radio for emergency communications, or a gps for navigation.  Keeping track of our energy usage will become a crucially important aspect of daily existence–not a mere exercise for the purpose of writing a magazine article.

—Future installments of the Energy Accountability series will describe the details of our electrical system and our efforts to balance our energy budget—stay tuned


Leave a Reply