By Angela Stearns, Production Coordinator
I like to think I pay attention to the amount of energy I’m using and try to minimize my use. But I have to admit that I’m rather ignorant as to what my habits equate to in BTUs.
Let me lay the foundation of this story: I joined the Journeyman team in fall 2014 as their first full time West Coast employee! One of the clients I work with out here is in the energy sector, an area that Journeyman has become more and more involved in. It’s a fascinating topic to create films on, and I’ve become much more informed and tapped into the energy sector, not only on the west coast, but globally as well.
Through my work, I’ve been introduced to several different information sources on the topic of energy, one of which is the Rational Middle Energy Series. It’s a website dedicated to helping people learn more about energy and aims to start a conversation around our energy future, through the use of documentary film. The videos cover a range of topics and feature a variety of people: industry experts, authors, professors, environmentalists, scholars, analysts, government workers, and other leaders in the field.
Surprisingly, my favourite video out of the bunch, and one I found had the biggest impact on me, was a video that I had anticipated wasn’t going to be too interesting. Episode 1.9 – A day in the life of energy with the Corder family, was a simple concept where the film crew followed around a family of four for the day. These images, combined with some catchy tunes and text on screen, allowed us to see the ways in which the family uses energy, and what that equates to in BTUs. BTU is a measure of energy where 10 000 BTU is equal to one pound of coal, or 850 BTU is the amount absorbed by a 1×1 metre solar panel in one hour (aka sun hours). These are handy comparisons that help put energy use into an understandable and tangible form. Obviously our energy comes from sources other than coal and solar, but they were the two calculations provided in the film.
As I watched the video, a greater sense of dread swept over me as I thought about the energy I must be using, and what sort of impact that’s truly having on the world.
At the end of the day, the Corders used 576,000 BTUs which equals 58 lbs of coal, or 678 sun hours. That’s one family on just one day. Talk about a reality check! These facts were a bit hard to swallow and have followed me around since I watched the video (but in a good way)! I’ve become a more educated consumer, and empowered to start making some better choices, which I hope will decrease my carbon footprint.
Getting educated in and starting conversations around our “energy future” is not just incredibly important, it’s absolutely critical. Although the series is not without its faults, I think the premise of it is a good one, and it’s a great resource for expanding your insight into the energy sector.
I highly recommend you check it out and start your own conversations around energy consumption!