Archive for the ‘energy saving’ Category

If you think about it, owning a pet is a terrible extravagance in today’s ecologically conscious world. All those extra food miles your tins of Whiskas account for, the energy bill for the pumps and lights in your aquarium, the fossil fuels that go into making all those plastic dog toys, etc. etc. The planet is already overcrowded, and that tin of Pedigree Chum could just as readily feed some starving African in some distant famine ravaged desert as it does little Fido.

Knowing that many of his fans are also pet lovers, The Coach got his scientific advisory team to thinking of some ways to reduce your pet’s carbon footprint.

Here are some of the ideas they came up with.

Dog Charger

A handy device for dog lovers, who will typically take their pet out on long walks 3 times a day. You take your mobile phone along with you you anyway, so why not slip it into this convenient pull-along unit and enjoy seeing your pet’s pleasure as he helps to save the planet whilst pulling it along behind him.

There’s a good boy.

Harnessing Cat Fight Energy

If you’ve ever seen cats fighting, you’ll appreciate the incredible amount of energy involved. The Coach thought long and hard about ways of harnessing this energy, before remembering those school physics lessons about static electricity.

Scientific fact zoneIt’s kown scientifically as the triboelectric effect, and it’s what you get when you rub balloons on woolly jumpers to make them stick to the ceiling, and so on. At school, the coach was also shown another good example – that of rubbing plastic rods with fur.

And what are cats covered in…?

The Cat Fight Static Electricity Generator consists of an insulated enclosure (sporting types may prefer the term “arena”) in to which are place two cats. One of which is wearing a close-fitting polyester suit. During the ensuing fracas, one cat gains a negative charge, and the other a positive charge.

Please note that there is no inherent cruelty in this device – they were going to “get it on” at some point anyway. It’s what cats do.

Gravitational Potential Energy in Birds

Let’s face it, a bird is just a big store of gravitational potential energy. The higher a bird soars, the greater the store. But how to harness this?

The Nanny gives you: The Bird Feeder-Guano Turbine. Basically it’s just an ordinary bird table – which means you can harness the potential of any wild bird, not just pets. Bird sits on table, bird eats nuts/scraps/whatever, bird craps over the side of the table into the turbine which is mounted at ground level, electricity is generated, bird flies away contented.

Note: The Bird Feeder-Guano Turbine is not available for penguins.

Rabbit Love Pump

Everyone knows about the natural fecundity of rabbits…

…oh you get the idea people, do I have to draw a picture?

Cow Wind Turbine

Let’s face it, cattle get a lot of bad press over their propensity to generate greenhouse gasses. Though technically not a pet, the Nanny turned his team to thinking of ways to reduce this anyway.

The team failed in that remit, but thinking laterally they decided that if they can’t reduce it, they might as well harness it.

In simple terms it’s just a wind turbine strapped to a cow’s arse. In more technical terms, it’s… well.. pretty much just that. But it’s a great idea nonetheless.

Fish Wheel

Fitting generators to hamster wheels is a given. These actually already exist in the form of wheel hub dynamos that cyclists can use to power their lights. They are very efficent, although somewhat expensive. It certainly wouldn’t be cost effective to attach one of these to a single hamster wheel, so the Coach envisages a number of wheels attached to a single axle to create a kind of hamster energy farm.

I digress.

Extrapolating the hamster wheel to other species, we originally came up with the duck wheel. As the duck swims to one side of the device, so the centre of gravity shifts, and the wheel turns. Except it doesn’t – the duck floats, and by Archimedes’ principle, it displaces its own weight in water – the so weight on each side of the wheel remains the same.

A fish on the other hand has a positive buoyancy. It’s able to control this through its swim bladder, and whilst swimming underwater may have a different density to the surrounding water. Hence the weight of the contents on either side of the fish wheel may at times be different, offsetting its centre of gravity and causing it to rotate.

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Whilst the EU continues to fritter millions and millions of Euros on deciding whether or not to actually ban old-fashioned lighbulbs, the capacity remains for each of us to individually decide to switch to those funky new efficient bulbs and easily save loads of money. Doesn’t it?

Whilst figures about increased lifespan and lower power consumption abound, many consumers are put off by the baseline figure – the cost of a lightbulb.

So let’s look at the argument, not as the EU parliament would – all fat, sweaty, overpaid MEPs – but it terms the ordinary bloke down the pub would recognise:

Scientific fact zoneHardly what you’d call a design classic, the old-fashioned style lightbulb was discovered by accident, over 200 years ago, when someone passed too much electric current through a bit of wire. The modern version heats up a bit of tungsten to something like 3000 degrees, and in fact converts 95% of the electricity into heat, rather than light.

The new energy-efficient bulbs aren’t boring at all, and actually use your hard-earned electricity to “excite” gas atoms into producing light.

New light bulbs: Exciting!

We checked lightbulb prices at one popular high street retailer, Argos.

  • Pack of 4 old-fashioned energy inefficient bulbs: £1.49
  • One energy efficient bulb: £3.99

i.e. a new bulb costs over ten times more than an old-fashioned one!

But here’s the deal, the new bulbs last up to twenty times longer, and in terms of the bulk of the cost of owning a lightbulb – the cost of the actual electricity – it’s up to 5 times cheaper.

The Coach did the maths, and found the saving you get is so staggeringly huge, the argument so obviously one-sided, that the only way I can think to make it any more obvious to you is thus: Imagine having the choice of buying a single can of beer, or buying one giant can of beer 10 times the size, but which actually costs a quarter of the price of the small can!!

Beer ahead of its time
The Party 7: ’70s style energy-efficent drinking

So one-sided is the equation, that’s you’d begin saving money by replacing your old energy-inefficient bulbs right now, even before they’ve worn out.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at how the UK’s electric industry works:

Scientific fact zoneIn the olden days, electricity was manufactured, distributed and billed by the CEGB. By a process called privatisation, which is closely related to something called globalisation, the whole process was opened up to a raft of new companies who separately produce and distrubute the electricity, whilst yet another one sends you the bill.

This idea is usually sold as one which “introduces competition and benefits the consumer”, but which in fact mostly benefits the people who own all these new companies.

So who does own all these new power companies? To name but a few – Powergen is owned by a company called e.on, which is German. As is Npower. Whereas EDF is actually French.

By spending money on electricity you’re benefitting Johnny foreigner. And let’s face it, Germany doesn’t have a brilliant track record as regards exactly what goes in to its incinerators.

Lastly, just remember who sponsors the FA Cup now. Germans. Where will it all end?

Buy new lightbulbs and you’ll save not just electricity, but both the planet and the future of English football as we know it.

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