66148 Electricity & Energy Efficiency FAQ2024-05-22T19:48:31+00:00

Electricity, Energy and Water Efficiency FAQ

Have you ever wondered why shoes hanging on a power line don’t get fried? Or whether cars could someday run on cow manure? Now you can get answers to these and all your energy-related questions.

Since the earth is covered in water, isn’t there enough water for everyone?2024-05-22T19:45:30+00:00

Of all the water on earth, only about 3% is fresh water and only 1% is available for human consumption.

Why didn’t Ben Franklin get electrocuted when he tied a metal key to a kite string and flew the kite in a thunderstorm?2024-05-22T19:25:33+00:00

Ben Franklin probably did not do his famous kite experiment the way it is usually portrayed. (Franklin never wrote about it himself, and the only description we have of it was written by another scholar, Joseph Priestley, 15 years later.) Franklin believed lightning was a flow of electricity taking place in nature. He knew of electricity’s dangers, and would probably not have risked being struck by lightning by flying his kite during a storm. It is more likely that Franklin flew his kite before the storm occurred, and that his famous key gave off an electric spark by drawing small electrical charges from the air.

How much energy is in a bolt of lightning?2024-05-22T19:45:41+00:00

One lightning strike can carry between 100 million and 1 billion volts—as much electricity as 2.5 million car batteries.

I once saw a pair of shoes hanging from a power line. Why didn’t the shoes get burned up by the electricity in the line?2024-05-22T19:27:12+00:00

Shoes hanging on a power line don’t get burned for the same reason that birds standing on a power line don’t get shocked: they don’t give electricity a path to the ground, so electricity stays in the line and does not go through them. But if the shoes were to touch a power line and a power pole at the same time, they would provide a path to the ground and would get blasted with electric current. It wouldn’t be pretty!

By the way, if you ever see someone throwing shoes up onto a line, tell them to stop! The shoes can damage the power line, or someone trying to get the shoes down could be seriously shocked or even killed.

I have heard that landfills can be a source of energy. How does that work?2024-05-22T19:29:19+00:00

Organic waste emits methane as it decomposes—or rots—in the landfill. Landfills can collect and treat the methane and then sell it as a commercial fuel, or they can burn it to generate steam and electricity. Today, there are almost 915 gas energy landfill projects operating in the United States.

Is it true that cars could run on cow manure?2024-05-22T19:30:00+00:00

Yes! Manure can be made into a gas containing methane. (Methane is the same energy-rich gas found in natural gas.) Certain types of bacteria emit this gas as they consume manure collected in special air-free tanks. The mixture of gases produced in this way, called biogas, can then be used in some modified car engines instead of gasoline, or burned in a boiler to generate heat or electricity.

What kind of a difference does it really make to replace a regular light bulb with an energy-saving one?2024-05-22T19:45:54+00:00

Replacing one incandescent light bulb with an energy-saving compact fluorescent bulb prevents about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted to the atmosphere from power plants, and saves about $67 in energy costs over the bulb’s lifetime.

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