by Angela Hobbs
Surrounded by his electric gadgets and appliances, Thomas Alva Edison had almost achieved his dream of the house that ‘inhaled wind and exhaled electricity’. Everything from his lights and rat-paralyser to his foot-warmer and toothbrush-sanitizer was powered by a large battery in his garden shed. Using his home in Llewellyn Park, New Jersey, Edison demonstrated just how simple it was to locally generate all the power necessary to light and power a home. It was 1905.
As the the twentieth century wore on, electricity generation and distribution took on the ‘centralized’ characteristics of the Alternating Current (AC) system, rather than ‘localized’ characteristics of Edison’s Direct Current (DC) system. It was simply more in tune with the industrialization and growing monopolies of the time. A time when there was little need for batteries and less concern about emmissions, energy efficiency, terrorism and depleting reserves of fossil fuels. Our growing concerns in these areas have highlighted the short-comings of the centralized system. But in recognizing those short comings and trying to overcome them, we’ve made a series of mistakes – mistakes that have engulfed us in significantly more damaging electromagnetic fields (EMFs) than necessary, mistakes that would make Edision turn in his grave.
Mistake # 1 – Choosing AC over DC, rather than nurturing both.
If we’d nurtured both the AC and DC systems, we’d be able to capitalize on the strengths of both.
DC electricity is easy to store, unlikely to surge and feeds directly into battery powered equipment. So there’d be no need for surge protectors or transformers and the strong EMFs they bring into our homes. However, the generating equipment is expensive and because the system remains underdeveloped the batteries tend to drain quickly.
AC electricity is a better traveller over long distances, but it’s difficult to store and uses abundant fossil fuels - either directly as fuel, or indirectly in the manufacture of cement for hydro dams and steel for wind turbines. It’s large scale and broad reach makes it an enticing target for terrorists.
Mistake # 2 – Locating electricity entry too near bedrooms
By trying to hide ugly overhead powerlines behind homes, they often end up at the bottom of the garden. From here they take the shortest route into homes – a route that ensures the strongest EMFs run close to bedrooms, where they can do most damage to unsuspecting sleepers.
A limited understanding of the ease with which EMFs move through walls, floors and ceilings contributed to the incremental rise in childhood leukemia and sleep disorders as electrification reached new towns. Not knowing any better many people positioned beds far too close to power entry points and proliferating electrical equipment.
Mistake # 3 – Positioning Smart Meters & Inverters too near bedrooms
Electricity's entry point, within 20 feet of bedrooms and their sleepers, set the stage for a new level of sleep disruption in the form of wireless signals from ‘Smart Meters’ and strong EMFs from ‘inverters’.
Smart Meters replace electric meters and use wireless signals to tell utilites about the specific electricity consumption of every home. Current research shows that these signals elevate cortisol – the hormone that keeps us awake, vigilant and stressed! The opposite of what most people want, and need, at night.
Inverters convert DC to AC electricity. They’re used in homes that generate some of their own DC power with windturbines or solar panels, but have to convert that power to AC before distributing it to their equipment.
Mistake # 4 – Making electricity available too freely
With the seemingly endless availability of electricity, little thought’s given to wastage. ‘Surge Protectors’, with their multiple sockets, and ‘stand by’ settings on much of today’s equipment, encourage the practice of leaving equipment plugged in, guzzling into 10% of the electricity being fed into homes. If that equipment was using DC electricity from a battery we’d be far more aware of the limited supply and probably unplug it after use.
Mistake #5 – Shifting our power usage into the night – more EMFs
With the huge demands foreseen as we power electric cars, longer streets and more homes, utilities are attempting to smooth torrential demand peaks into a persistent trickle. By offering cheaper rates later in the evening and during weekends they hope to redistribute electricity demand by encouraging customers to do some of their heating, cooking, cooling and washing during those cheaper ‘off peak’ periods. Depending on where that equipment is in relation to sleepers, that shift could increase the EMFs surrounding them.
Today with the growing popularity of ‘Passive’, ‘Net Zero’ and ‘Equilibrium’ homes that use a combination of positioning, insulation and sometimes mini-generation, to reduce their dependence on the electric grid, we’ve acquired the capabilities to fulfill Edison’s dream of creating homes that ‘inhale wind and exhale electricity’. If our goal was as clear and as steadfast as his, we’d stop piling on mistakes: we’d develop laptop batteries with longer lives; negate the need for transformers and inverters by adding DC wiring and outlets to our homes; insulate with abandon; and insist on power entry points being far away from bedrooms.