Is energy conservation and energy efficiency the same thing? Or what is different about energy conservation? Why and how should it impact on my life? What about the planet?
Energy conservation means to reduce the quantity of energy that is used for different purposes. This practice may result in increase of financial capital, environmental value, national and personal security, and human comfort. Energy conservation refers to reducing energy through using less of an energy service. Energy conservation differs from efficient energy use, which refers to using less energy for a constant service. For example, driving less is an example of energy conservation. Driving the same amount with a higher mileage vehicle is an example of energy efficiency. Energy conservation and efficiency are both energy reduction techniques.
Allow me to make one thing clear, Energy efficiency is not energy conservation; energy conservation is reducing or going without a service to save energy. But both efficiency and conservation help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even though energy conservation reduces energy services, it can result in increased financial capital, environmental quality, national security and personal financial security. It is at the top of the sustainable energy hierarchy
Some countries employ energy or carbon taxes to motivate energy users to reduce their consumption. In the book, Green Illusions, carbon taxes can allow consumption to shift to clean power and other alternatives that carry a different set of environmental side effects and limitations. Meanwhile, taxes on all energy consumption stand to reduce energy use across the board, while reducing a broader array of environmental consequences arising from energy production. The State of California employs a tiered energy tax whereby every consumer receives a baseline energy allowance that carries a low tax. As usage increases above that baseline, the tax is increasing drastically. Such programs aim to protect poorer households while creating a larger tax burden for high energy consumers.
One of the primary ways to improve energy conservation in buildings is to use an energy audit. An energy audit is an inspection and analysis of energy use and flows for energy conservation in a building, process or system to reduce the amount of energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output(s). This is normally accomplished by trained professionals and can be part of some of the national programs discussed above. In addition, recent development of smartphone apps enable homeowners to complete relatively sophisticated energy audits themselves. Building technologies and smart meters can allow energy users, business and residential, to see graphically the impact their energy use can have in their workplace or homes. Advanced real-time energy metering is able to help people save energy by their actions.
In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design or climatic design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it doesn’t involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices. The key to designing a passive solar building is to best take advantage of the local climate. Elements to be considered include window placement and glazing type, thermal insulation, thermal mass, and shading. Passive solar design techniques can be applied most easily to new buildings, but existing buildings can be retrofitted.
In the United States, suburban infrastructure evolved during an age of relatively easy access to fossil fuels, which has led to transportation-dependent systems of living. Zoning reforms that allow greater urban density as well as designs for walking and bicycling can greatly reduce energy consumed for transportation. The use of telecommuting by major corporations is a significant opportunity to conserve energy, as many Americans now work in service jobs that enable them to work from home instead of commuting to work each day.
Consumers are often poorly informed of the savings of energy efficient products. The research one must put into conserving energy often is too time consuming and costly when there are cheaper products and technology available using today’s fossil fuels. Some governments and NGOs are attempting to reduce this complexity with Eco labels that make differences in energy efficiency easy to research while shopping. To provide the kind of information and support people need to invest money, time and effort in energy conservation, it is important to understand and link to people’s topical concerns. For instance, some retailers argue that bright lighting stimulates purchasing. However, health studies have demonstrated that headache, stress, blood pressure, fatigue and worker error all generally increase with the common over-illumination present in many workplace and retail settings. It has been shown that natural daylighting increases productivity levels of workers, while reducing energy consumption.
The European Union (EU) pledged to cut its annual consumption of primary energy by 20% by 2020. The ‘European Union Energy Efficiency Action Plan’ is long awaited. As part of the EU’s SAVE Programme, aimed at promoting energy efficiency and encouraging energy-saving behaviour, the Boiler Efficiency Directive specifies minimum levels of efficiency for boilers fired with liquid or gaseous fuels.
Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) is an Indian government body created in 1977 and engaged in promoting energy efficiency and conservation in every walk of life. In the recent past PCRA has done mass media campaigns in television, radio & print media. An impact assessment survey by a third party revealed that due to these mega campaigns by PCRA, overall awareness level have gone up leading to saving of fossil fuels worth crores of rupees (Indian currency) besides reducing pollution.
In Iran, the Iranian Fuel Conservation Company is responsible for promoting energy efficiency and conservation for Fossil fuels. Ahmadinejad’s administration launched the ‘Targeted Subsidies’ initiative primarily to reduce the energy intensity of the nation’s economy.
Since the 1973 oil crisis, energy conservation has been an issue in Japan. All oil based fuel is imported, so indigenous sustainable energy is being developed. The Energy Conservation Center promotes energy efficiency in every aspect of Japan. Public entities are implementing the efficient use of energy for industries and research.
Sri Lanka currently consumes fossil fuels, hydro power, wind power, wind power, solar power and dendro power for their day to day power generation. The Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority is playing a major role regarding energy management and energy conservation. Today, most of the industries are requested to reduce their energy consumption by using renewable energy sources and optimizing their energy usage.
Despite the vital role energy efficiency is envisaged to play in cost-effectively cutting energy demand, only a small part of its economic potential is exploited in the Asia Pacific. Governments have implemented a range of subsidies such as cash grants, cheap credit, tax exemptions, and co-financing with public-sector funds to encourage a range of energy-efficiency initiatives across several sectors. Governments in the Asia-Pacific region have implemented a range of information provision and labeling programs for buildings, appliances, and the transportation and industrial sectors. Information programs can simply provide data, such as fuel-economy labels, or actively seek to encourage behavioral changes, such as Japan’s Cool Biz program that encourages setting air conditioners at 28-degrees Celsius and allowing employees to dress casually in the summer.
The United States is currently the second largest single consumer of energy, following China. The United States categorizes national energy use in four broad sectors: transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial. Energy usage in transportation and residential sectors, about half of U.S. energy consumption, is largely controlled by individual consumers. Commercial and industrial energy expenditures are determined by businesses entities and other facility managers. National energy policy has a significant effect on energy usage across all four sectors.
In Nigeria, the Lagos State Government is encouraging Lagosians to imbibe an energy conservation culture. The government is spearheading an initiative tagged “Conserve Energy, Save Money” under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. The initiative is designed to sensitize Lagosians around the theme of energy conservation by connecting with and influencing their behavior through do it yourself tips and exciting interaction with prominent personalities. To get Lagosians started on energy conservation, Solar Lamps and Phillips Energy-saving bulbs were given out at each experience center.
Individuals and organizations that are direct consumers of energy may want to conserve energy in order to reduce energy costs and promote economic, political and environmental sustainability. Industrial and commercial users may want to increase efficiency and thus maximize profit. On a larger scale, energy conservation is an important element of energy policy. In general, energy conservation reduces the energy consumption and energy demand per capita. This reduces the rise in energy costs, and can reduce the need for new power plants, and energy imports. The reduced energy demand can provide more flexibility in choosing the most preferred methods of energy production.
By reducing emissions, energy conservation is an important method to prevent climate change. Energy conservation makes it easier to replace non-renewable resources with renewable energy. Energy conservation is often the most economical solution to energy shortages.
The United States is currently the largest consumer of energy, although there are a lot of current levels of growth, it is possible that in the future China could become the leading energy consumer. The U.S. Department of Energy categorizes national energy use in four broad sectors: transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial.
The transportation sector includes all vehicles used for personal or freight transportation. Of the energy used in this sector, approximately 65% is consumed by gasoline-powered vehicles, primarily personally owned. Diesel-powered transport (trains, merchant ships, heavy trucks, etc.) consumes about 20%, and air traffic consumes most of the remaining 15%. Another focus in gasoline conservation is reducing the number of miles driven. An estimated 40% of American automobile use is associated with daily commuting. Many urban areas offer subsidized public transportation to reduce commuting traffic, and encourage carpooling by providing designated high-occupancy vehicle lanes and lower tolls for cars with multiple riders. A vehicle’s gas mileage normally decreases rapidly at speeds above 55 miles per hour. A car or truck moving at 55 miles an hour can get about 15 percent better fuel economy than the same car going 65 mph. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as a rule of thumb, each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is similar to paying an additional $0.21 per gallon for gas (about $3.00 per gallon).
The residential sector refers to all private residences, including single-family homes, apartments, manufactured homes and dormitories. Energy use in this sector varies significantly across the country, due to regional climate differences and different regulation. On average, about half of the energy used in the U.S. homes is expended on space conditioning (i.e. heating and cooling).
The efficiency of furnaces and air conditioners has increased steadily since the energy crises of the 1970s. The 1987 National Appliance Energy Conservation Act authorized the Department of Energy to set minimum efficiency standards for space conditioning equipment and other appliances each year, based on what is “technologically feasible and economically justified”. Despite technological improvements, many American lifestyle changes have put higher demands on heating and cooling resources.
Energy usage in some homes may vary widely from these averages. In most residences no single appliance dominates, and any conservation efforts must be directed to numerous areas in order to achieve substantial energy savings. However, Ground Source Heat Pump systems are more energy efficient, environmentally clean and cost-effective space conditioning systems available and can achieve reductions in energy consumptions of up to 70%.
The commercial sector consists of retail stores, offices (business and government), restaurants, schools and other workplaces. Energy in this sector has the same basic end uses as the residential sector, in slightly different proportions. Space conditioning is again the single biggest consumption area, but it represents only about 30% of the energy use of commercial buildings. Lighting, at 25%, plays a much larger role than it does in the residential sector. Lighting is also generally the most wasteful component of commercial use. A number of case studies indicate that more efficient lighting and elimination of over-illumination can reduce lighting energy by approximately fifty percent in many commercial buildings.
The industrial sector represents all production and processing of goods, including manufacturing, construction, farming, water management and mining. Increasing costs have forced energy-intensive industries to make substantial efficiency improvements in the past 30 years. For example, the energy used to produce steel and paper products has been cut 40% in that time frame, while petroleum/aluminum refining and cement production have reduced their usage by about 25%. These reductions are largely the result of recycling waste material and the use of cogeneration equipment for electricity and heating. Unlike the other sectors, total energy use in the industrial sector has declined in the last decade. While this is partly due to conservation efforts, it’s also a reflection of the growing trend for U.S. companies to move manufacturing operations offshore.
The usage of telecommuting by major corporations is a significant opportunity to conserve energy, as many Americans now work in service jobs that enable them to work from home instead of commuting to work each day.