Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Optical Illusions Can Help You Save Power

Dear Reader,

From the scientists over in America, a way has been suggested that would allow us lowly power users to save power through optical illusion.
The way? Create a length of tape with numbers on them that fits neatly over the meter, so that the meter reader's optics are illusioned...

Just joking - don't go reporting me, thanks. No, the real way is far more interesting. It goes something like this:

All your light bulbs are run on AC electricity, which means that they 'flicker' (sort of). The reason for this is because the current goes one way, stops, goes the other way, then repeats - meaning that the light, at some point, turns off. Sort of.
I don't want to get too technical, but the point is that it 'flickers' at such a high rate (60 times a second) that we don't even notice it.

Now, what they want to try and do is keep it on for 70 milliseconds, turn it off for 10, then turn it back on. Basically, this alters the 'flickering' so that it stays off for a bit longer than normal - about 12.5% longer - and you wouldn't even notice it.

And this 12.5% translates into 12.5% savings. Sort of.

Why all the sort ofs? Well, it's difficult to get reliable testing out of optical illusions because people's brains respond differently.

Anyway, onto the figures: the EnergyWise website reckons that 8% of the bill goes on lighting. So, in a bill of $200, you'd be spending $16 on lighting.
If you were to save 12.5% on that, you'd have saved yourself a great big $2 a month!

Well, it's a bit underwhelming, I suppose; but now you can go and give an interesting little tid-bit to your mates.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Greaves

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