Assignment 3 | Energy Systems, from the Body to the World

The diagram above illustrates the energy flows related to my activities on a typical morning at home in Aurora, CO during vacation. It illustrates the overall flow of energy within the Denver metropolitan area, moving from a larger, statewide scale during extraction, to regional hubs transforming the resources into usable energy, and then to storing and distributing that energy throughout the city and to my home.

Colorado is among the major producers of coal and natural gas in the United States. As a result, much of its electricity comes from these sources. More specifically, for my electricity provider, Xcel Energy, coal is the dominant resource used to create electricity which, in turn, powers my alarm, my toothbrush, my refrigerator, my laptop, and other objects. Heating and cooling are not included in this diagram because my family rarely uses the air conditioner or the heater. In fact, our home is consistently put among the top for less energy use in the neighborhood because of this.

As for eating lunch, my body undergoes metabolic processes to break down the food in order to give me energy. However, this is not directly implied in the diagram because I feel that much more energy is expended through oil in order to process and transport the food. Oil also provides energy for means of transportation when I use my car.

The water I use in the diagram is included because of the energy required to use it for hydroelectric power and to also heat the water when showering and washing dishes.

Looking at my web makes it clear how reliant I am upon non-renewable resources at home. The image of the green Mile Hi City seen above is not as it seems. As a result, it is critical that I think about changing my global energy impact.

1. At the individual scale: I can make simple moves by choosing to limit the amount of connections I have to the coal-driven power grid. It is as simple as turning off the TV and the laptop, and choosing to read a book instead.

2. At the scale of habitable space: Continuing the idea of cutting dependency on non-renewable resources, I can provide better insulation to walls and pipes in order to mitigate the amount of energy lost through radiation. This would make my home would use energy more efficiently. Installing photovoltaic panels is another reasonable choice, which is made more enticing by government grants and tax breaks.

3. At the scale of the infrastructural network: The simplest way to make in impact is to choose not to drive my car and instead utilize public transportation or a bicycle. I would still be connected to non-renewable energies but I would be using more efficient means of expending them. Even though the Denver metro area is developed heavily for cars, this would not be difficult because of excellent service provided by the Regional Transportation District’s light rail and buses.


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