August 15 2011

How You Can Live Without Paying a Utility Bill

The average monthly residential utility bill in America is $104.52. Per year, this is $1,254.24 per residence. For the country (approx. 125 million), this adds up to $156,780,000,000. This is the amount that could be saved if the grid was totally sustainable.

However, because of a spotty electrical grid, substantial energy losses through transmission, and reliance on fuels that were popular during the Industrial Revolution, we are forced to pay outrageous sums.

Minimizing or eliminating these problems is a good start to eliminating utility bills. For instance, 67% of the energy produced is lost to heat and resistance. Users have to pay for this loss in addition to the energy they use. If we suppose that electricity makes up one fourth of a utility bill (water, gas, electricity, sewer) then the dollar amount lost to heat is $26,260,650,000. Engineers need to band together to figure out a remedy for this.

The electrical grid possesses minimal forethought at best. Power lines and transistors were set up after settlement patterns were already established. And the grid has been at the whim of monopolistic competition ever since. The purpose of the grid has been profit, not usefulness or utility. Therein lies the problem. This is primarily a problem for regional planners and landscape architects.

Oil has its own problems. Although plentiful (but not as plentiful as some think), it is a very inefficient power source. Much oil energy is lost in the combustion process. Also, most of it is imported into the country, which makes it comparatively expensive, and often comes from politically unstable war-torn countries, which makes it too expensive.

All of these losses and inefficiencies have to be paid for. Matter of fact, over half of the money used to pay a utility bill goes to subsidize these shortcomings.

Therefore, unifying the grid, minimizing electricity loss, and finding a clean and reliable source of energy will severely decrease utility bills. Americans need to realize how important modernizing our electricity grid is and how finding a new source of energy is even more so. We also need to realize that the only way to end our dependence on foreign oil is to end our dependence on oil altogether.

What are suggestions on how we could make the power grid function better? Is there a power source that can be a replacement for oil assuming a yearly budget of 26 billion (the amount of money used to subsidize heat loss in the power grid)?

Jeff P Jilek

Jeff Jilek has earned a B.S. in Architecture with a Minor in City & Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. He has been involved with architecture since his junior year of High School when he attended Eastland Career Center’s Architecture program. Sustainable Design is something that he is most interested in but also has taken many college level courses in psychology, political science, and philosophy. He will be attends Arizona State University for continuing education. He is pursuing both his M.B.A and Master of Architecture degrees. He blogged about pertinent issues in design and how design relates to global dynamics, culture, and economy.

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 15th, 2011 at 10:03 pm and is filed under Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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