Did you know that in 2018 two-thirds of the total energy used by American‘s was wasted? That’s a lot of energy resources squandered that we can never get back. However, there is good news. Experts believe that by 2050 we can reduce our total energy usage by as much as 60%, and all it will take is some simple energy conservation.
In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth exploration of energy conservation and explain why it has become so important. We’ll also go over the topic of how to conserve energy and target specific ways that you can help in energy conservation efforts.
What Is Energy Conservation?
Energy conservation is when you make a conscious decision to use less energy. You might be wondering, can it really be that simple? Yes, yes, it can! Not only is it simple, but it’s also quite beneficial. When we lower the amount of energy we use, we slow down fossil fuel depletion and help clean up the environment. While we’re at it, we end up saving ourselves money. Let’s take a closer look.
Why Is Energy Conservation Important?
Currently, the primary energy sources in the United States are fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. However, fossil fuels are non-renewable resources that are created deep down within the Earth’s surface over the course of millions of years. We’re using them so fast that they will eventually become exhausted.
What’s more, fossil fuels negatively impact the environment. Coal is the number one pollutant in the United States. Burning it leads to carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. Plus, burning coal causes acid rain, smog, and soot. It even creates toxic air emissions, which is linked to congenital disabilities, cancer, and other severe health-related conditions.
The top benefits of conserving energy:
- Help the environment
- Prolong the existence of fossil fuels
- Save money
How Does Energy Conservation Help the Environment?
When you limit your energy usage, you lower your impact on the environment. The longer we go without making significant changes, the greater the threat of global warming and climate change become to our daily lives.
When we burn fossil fuels, they create an incredible amount of greenhouse gas emissions. These gasses, which include carbon dioxide, add up faster than the atmosphere can absorb them, which prevents Earth from being able to maintain a stable temperature properly.
The planet’s rising temperatures are what we refer to as global warming. We classify the side effects of warming as climate change. We observe these side effects through events such as changes in sea level, cold snaps, droughts, hurricanes, melting glaciers, and wildfires. Fortunately, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing our use of energy.
The simple act of energy conservation can help slow global warming, which will allow us to:
- Save coastal cities from disappearing underwater
- Improve water quality and protect reefs and other fragile ecosystems
- Improve air quality and reduce airborne allergens leading to a reduced risk of cardiovascular and respiratory issues
- Lower impact on mental health, injuries, and fatalities caused by severe weather
How Will Conserving Energy Prolong the Existence of Fossil Fuels?
It’s inevitable that we will run out of fossil fuels at some point even though we rely so strongly on them as our primary energy source. As such, we must begin limiting our energy consumption now. The slower we burn through these non-renewable resources, the more time we have to develop alternative energy solutions before exhausting our fossil fuels.
How Will Energy Conservation Allow You To Save Money?
There are a number of ways that conserving energy leads to financial benefits.Here are three examples:
- Delay fossil fuel price increases
- Lower your utility bills
- Provide you with more opportunities for tax credits and rebates
First, as our supply of fossil fuels continues to diminish, it will be less readily available. Drilling and mining will become incredibly difficult and, in turn, become more expensive. This added cost leads to the consumer’s cost increasing as well.
As consumers, we can reduce our fossil fuel dependence by using less energy and continuing to look for new ways to improve our energy sustainability options, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. The more we start relying on our renewable energy sources, the more we can prolong the existence of fossil fuels and slow down the speed of fossil fuel price increases.
Another way that energy conservation can help you save money is through your utility bills. From the types of appliances you use to the electricity plan you’re on, a few simple changes can significantly impact how much your energy bills will cost you. The more steps you take towards conserving energy, the more your electricity bill, natural gas bill, and even your water bill will reflect those changes. You can start to see significant savings as your efforts begin to add up.
The savings don’t stop there. The U.S. Department of Energy, alongside various state governments, frequently offer energy conservation-related rebate programs and tax credits to homeowners. It just takes a quick online search to find the incentives and policies that are in place for your state.
What Is the Difference Between Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation?
Although energy conservation and energy efficiency are both ways to reduce energy usage, there is a difference between the two. When we choose to change the way we do things to limit our energy use, we’re practicing energy conservation. Energy efficiency is when we find ways to use less energy without altering the task at hand.
An Example of Energy Efficiency vs. Energy Conservation
When you change your lightbulbs from traditional incandescent lights or halogen bulbs to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, you are improving your energy efficiency. You are continuing to use your lights the same amount as you were before, but now you’re using less energy.
This is because it only takes a 12-watt (W) LED bulb to give off as much light as a 43-watt halogen bulb or a 60-watt traditional incandescent bulb. That’s a big difference, and it’s a simple way to use less electricity.
Now, if you make a conscious decision to turn off those lights every time you leave the room, that’s practicing energy conservation.
Learning How To Conserve Energy Is Easy
You can easily accomplish acts of energy conservation by making a few simple lifestyle adjustments. With so many ways to save energy, you get to pick and choose which methods and devices are right for you.
One great way to start is by doing an energy audit of your home. Look around for simple ways that you can save energy. Make sure to take notes so you don’t have to tackle it all at once. The key is to not let it become overwhelming. Take just one small step at a time, and you’ll be feeling great about your energy conservation choices in no time.
What Are Energy Conservation Methods?
We couldn’t possibly list all of the ways to conserve energy here. Still, this list of energy-saving tips will give you a solid understanding of energy conservation methods that you can use now.
Outside the House
- Drive a smaller vehicle that gets better gas mileage or purchase a hybrid or electric car. When possible, carpool or use public transportation. Or better yet, ride your bicycle or walk if you can.
- Help control the temperature in your home by planting shade trees in key areas around your yard.
Inside Your Home
- Turn off lights and unplug electronics, other devices, and their chargers every time they are not in use. Simplify this by installing power strips so that you can turn off multiple items with one switch.
- Replace all of your halogen and other incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), LEDs, or smart light bulbs.
- Check to make sure that your attic and walls are adequately insulated.
- Seal any cracks around windows and doors with caulk and weather stripping to avoid unwanted air leaks.
- Keep window coverings like curtains open on cold but sunny days to allow the sun’s warmth to shine in. On hot days, keep them closed to keep out thermal energy from the sun.
- Repair plumbing issues like running toilets and faucets that leak.
- Install water-saver shower heads to help with conserving hot water. Opt for taking shorter showers instead of baths and turning the water off while you brush your teeth or shave.
- For maximum savings on your utility bills, avoid as much energy usage as possible during your provider’s peak hours. Peak energy usage hours can be different depending on your provider and location. Contact your energy provider to find out their current peak hours and if they offer any incentive programs.
- When you want your house to stay cool, cut back on activities that produce moisture such as bathing, cooking, or doing the laundry. Time to eat? Skip your indoor appliances and go for the grill.
- Ceiling fans can be used to properly circulate air throughout your home, which will help with your air conditioner and heating systems’ efficiency.
- Install a programmable thermostat for worry-free temperature control that allows you to keep your home cooler at night than during the day without having to lift a finger.
- Keep your hot water heater thermostat set between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap your water heater in a water blanket to improve its efficiency for more easy savings on your water heating bill.
Appliance Usage and Efficiency
- On warm breezy days, skip using the clothes dryer and opt to hang your laundry to dry on a clothesline.
- When you do use the dryer, clean the lint trap after every load to help maintain efficiency.
- Washing your laundry doesn’t always require the use of hot water. Use cold water cycles when you can.
- Clean or replace air filters for your cooling systems and heating systems as recommended.
- Keep your refrigerator coils dust-free to prevent energy waste.
- Opt to use a slow cooker, toaster oven, or microwave over a conventional oven when possible since they all use less energy than a full-size oven.
- Replace your outdated baseline model appliances with energy-efficient models.
What Types of Energy Conservation Devices Are There?
You don’t have to conserve energy all on your own. Today, you can get help by using energy-efficient appliances and smart devices throughout your home. These devices have been built with energy efficiency in mind, and there’s no shortage of options.
You can reduce your energy consumption and utility bills instantly by using any number of these energy-efficient products. Find out easily if something is government-certified to reduce energy costs by at least 30%. All you have to do is look for the Energy Star® label.
Common Household Appliances and Devices That Come With an Energy Star® Label
- Clothes dryers
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioner (HVAC) systems
- Water heaters
What Are Smart Appliances?
Many manufacturers now offer what are called smart appliances. These are appliances that you can connect remotely to home energy management systems and smart electric meters.
There are many benefits to making an investment in smart appliances. This advanced technology will automatically make adjustments when your electricity is most used. For example, it will delay your refrigerator’s defrost cycle until the middle of the night when the cost of electricity is cheaper. That means you save on your utility bill, and you didn’t even do anything to make it happen. You probably didn’t even notice that there was a change at all.
Smart appliances ensure that you’re using as much energy during off-peak hours as possible. Air conditioning systems, dishwashers, heat pumps, and refrigerators are just a few of the smart appliances that are manufactured today.
Your utility provider can help you learn more about time-based electricity rates and the different types of smart grid technologies available to consumers in your area. They can explain the energy plans that are available to you and what benefits you’d receive from each.
What Are Smart Thermostats?
Smart thermostats are programmable thermostats that allow you to control your home’s internal temperature in real-time from anywhere around the world. Like other programmable thermostats, you can set them to automatically turn on and off during certain hours of the day. Still, smart thermostats have a lot of additional perks.
You can adjust the temperature based on the humidity level inside your home. You can check to see if you remembered to turn off the lights. And you can do it all from a remote location like the store, work, or even the beach. Since heating costs can change by around 5% for each degree and cooling costs will flex by 3% per degree, installing a smart thermostat will save you money while saving energy.
Understanding Energy Conservation Is a Critical Steps Towards a Better Quality of Life
When it comes to energy conservation, perhaps you’d like to start small and simple by setting a goal of only running full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine. Or maybe you’re ready to go all-in and install a solar energy system. Whatever you decide, your efforts in conserving energy will positively impact both you personally and the world around you. When you’re ready, contact your energy supplier to discuss a new electricity plan or natural gas plan as part of your energy conservation efforts.
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