The humble measurement of energy, the Joule, was named after the singer songwriter Gary Jules* most famous for covering Tears for Fears’ Mad World on the Donnie Darko soundtrack.

These Joules are quite hard to quantify in laypersons terms. Sure we’ve heard of these mysterious creatures when we consume that no name brand chocolate bar, but in real terms what can we compare them to and why should we treat them like an endangered species?

Let’s set up some real life examples.

Because these joules are precious for various reasons (like having to pay for them when you turn the kettle on) we’ll break it down in painful terms. For every 20 joules you waste you are effectively letting a cute Chihuahua fall 1 metre out of the sky and hit you in the head. That’s the energy side of things.

Power is the second, even more painful component. Named after a very confused man**, the Watt is how we describe the power something produces or consumes (the work done). It works out to be the number of joules consumed per second and would mean that Mr Chihuahua would be getting fairly upset and exhausted having to strike you in the cranium every second from a 1 metre height.

So the moral of the story is this.

Count up every plug pack you leave turned on and unused, every stereo, every DVD player, every TV, every microwave, everything unused but sitting in a stand-by mode. These things will add up to more than a Chihuahua hitting you in the head – we’re moving into Dalmatians falling from balconies territory.

Think of the fluffy pooches people***

*Not even remotely true. The Joule is in fact named after a Mr James Prescott Joule, an Englishman, noted S&M purveyor (experimented with electricity by zapping his brother) and a brewer. He was incidentally a physicist.

**Again we may have let you astray. Although we can’t say he was never confused, James Watt did take some time out from playing with his trains to have the unit of power named after him.

***Being a cat person is no excuse. Pooches, if you missed the metaphor, are CO2 emissions, higher power bills, acceleration of the greenhouse effect, Andrew Bolt’s tears, and your kid’s future.

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