Week 5

Lab March 6, 2015: Wind Power and Electricity Demand Modeling

March 5, 2015: Electricity I:  Electrical Power Generation

Electric Grid,  TransformerHousehold wiring, Electrical Panels 101

Other sources of Electricity: Fuel Cells, Real Fuel CellsSolar Cells

Notes: DWK Notes

March 3, 2015: Charlie Woodworth, Executive Director Maine Huts and Trails

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Week 4

Lab February 27, 2015:   Trip to Houles Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling
Assignment: Don’t Get Steamed over Home Heating Costs.  Fuel Price Comparison

February 26, 2015:
Details on the energy and waste systems of Maine Huts and Trails Visit
Preparation for Friday lab

February 24, 2015:
a) Finish the discussion on new car options.  (Please hand in calculations on car cost and carbon that you prepared for last Thursday)
b) Summary of Maine Huts and Trails Visit.   Additional Reading on hut systems.

Related reading: Oil’s Plunge Could Fuel Its Rebound

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Week 3

Lab February 20, 2015Trip to Flagstaff Lake Lodge
1pm (sharp!) departure from the loading dock behind Keyes

Dream Car

Dream Car

February 19, 2015 – I need a new car
Please read the materials in the link above and be prepared to turn in answers to questions 1-4 at the end of class.

Design Links:  Planetary GearsPrius,  Planetary Gears and Hybrid Engines, CO2 production of fuel, Fuel Efficiency, car energy calculations

Lecture Notes:  DWK Notes

Case Study: Forecasting gasoline prices

February 17, 2015 – Economics II
Key concepts, nudges, behavioral economics, and present value revisited. Lecture Slides (.pdf printable version).

Reading: Recent paper on electricity use and the Tragedy of the Commons.
Video Resource: Excel tutorial on calculating payments on a $26,000 auto loan
Assignment: Construct an Excel spreadsheet for financing the purchase of a $150,000 home using a 30-year mortgage of monthly payments and a fixed interest rate of 4% and answer the following questions:

  1. How much total interest will you be paying on this mortgage?
  2. Suppose you make one extra payment per year on the principal of the loan, spread out over the year (e.g., if your monthly payment is $600, recalculate your worksheet with a payment of an additional $50/month).  What happens to the total interest paid and the number of months before the mortgage is paid off?
  3. Suppose instead that after 10 years of dutifully paying your mortgage, interest rates fall to 2%.  The bank will let you refinance the remaining 20 years on your mortgage at the lower rate, but you must pay a fee (a.k.a. “closing costs”) of $1,000.  Should you refinance your mortgage?  Justify your answer carefully and completely with the appropriate calculations.

Instructions: Type up your answers to these questions and include them with your Excel worksheet in the Google Drive folder for “Joules2$” containing your name.  Note that you’ll find a copy of the Auto Loan example worksheet in the Google Drive “Resources” folder for Joules2$.  This assignment is due in your Google Drive folder by 10am on Monday, February 23rd.

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Week 2


February 10, 2015 – Introduction to energy economics

Readings: 2009 NY Times op-ed on Nobel Prize winning chemist Frederick Soddy’s investigation of the relationship between thermodynamics and economics.
Energy and the U.S. Economy: A Biophysical Perspective.
Assignment: Come prepared to discuss the above two readings by sharing an interpretive question (questions that have more than one plausible answer) with your classmates.
More Readings: 1-Feb-15 NY Times article: Climate Change’s Bottom Line.
Risky Business (June 2014).
More about ecological economics: Visions, Values, Valuation and the Need for an Ecological Economics.
Economics can even explain the end of this year’s SuperBowl.
Video Lecture: Opportunity Cost by Dan Ariely.

Lecture Slides: PowerPoint version; Printable .pdf version



February 12, 2015 –  The second law of thermodynamics states that in a natural thermodynamic process, there is an increase in the sum of the entropies of the participating systems. The second law is an empirical finding that has been accepted as an axiom of thermodynamic theory.

Lecture Notes:  DWK Notes

Gibbs Free Energy
Carnot Cycle
Second Law

Lab February 13, 2015 – Calculating the heat content of different fuels , Excel tutorials

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