As I walk up the stairs to our room in Spiddal, I wonder what this room will be like. I feel happy knowing that we are in a hotel, with comfortable beds and clean rooms. As I make my way to the bathroom, I go to turn on the light switch and nothing happens. I think to myself, “Hmm—that is odd.” The lights are in plain sight, I am looking at them with my own two eyes, but they are refusing to turn on. After a couple seconds, we just cannot wrap our heads around the fact that this beautiful hotel has lights that will not turn on. All of a sudden, Sam, my classmate, puts a section of our room key into a slot in the wall and we are now able to turn on all the lights. Places in Ireland in which these key card slots are installed, are helping to save the amount of electricity that is being wasted. In order to gain access to electricity, you must insert the key card into the slot. If people are not in their rooms, and the card is not inserted, then it is impossible for any electricity to be generated. This system sets limits on the amount of energy people can use, but it also has its drawbacks. For example, if I wanted to leave my computer charging while I went on a tour, this system stops me from being able to do that. Guests are not charged for the amount of electricity that is used during their stay, instead this system just decreases the amount of energy that would most likely be wasted without this energy-saving system. Each time I left our room in Spiddal, I removed the key card and thought to myself, even if we leave things plugged in, no unnecessary energy is being generated. I said to myself, what an amazing concept and why is this the first time I am seeing this?
During my visit in Ireland, on many of the elongated roads where I gaze at beautiful white sheep and endless green grass, something almost always catches my eye. These energy-saving devices can be seen on people’s houses or set up in large fields. As I look out the window of the bus, solar panels reflect a light that blinds me. I have learned that many towns and families have switched over to using solar energy, which uses the rays from the sun to generate heat and electricity. In Cloughjordan, the solar panels are not working just yet, but they anticipate that they will soon be up and running. Solar panels are a more efficient way of generating energy, but it can be a time-consuming process. Solar panels are unpredictable and there is no way of telling how often they can generate electricity. As the panels shine light into my eyes, I see energy-saving devices with potential and promise, but is the skepticism and sacrifice worth it without guaranteed results?