In a day and age where more and more people want to reduce their carbon footprint, energy efficiency has become a popular catchphrase or buzzword that is so broad that it is sometimes a bit ambiguous.
Read on to learn more about energy efficiency, the benefits of being energy efficient, why being energy efficient is important, and what is not energy efficient:
Energy Efficiency Definition 101
The definition of energy efficiency, in its simplest form, means employing less energy to fulfill the same service. For example, a compact fluorescent light bulb is more energy efficient than a regular incandescent light bulb because the former requires less electrical energy to generate the same amount of light as the latter.
Being energy efficient or using energy efficient products also means that you are saving money by using less energy, without sacrificing quality or comfort.
Properly insulating a house, for instance, means that a lower amount of energy is needed to heat or cool the house properly, and using fluorescent lights rather than incandescent lights not only will provide the same lighting intensity, but also will end up costing less on the monthly electricity bill. Ultimately, this helps people lessen their greenhouse gas emissions and therefore safeguard the environment.
In addition to insulation and fluorescent light bulbs, energy-efficient appliances—like fridges, dryers, washers, ovens, freezers, stoves, and dishwashers—can help to reduce energy consumption.
Another prime example of this concept would be energy efficient vehicles. Some engines are built to drive hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas, while a sports-car might only get a few dozen miles out of a full tank of gas. One vehicle consumes more energy at a faster rate than the other vehicle which performs essentially the same function, without wasting as much energy.
Learn how to make your home energy efficient with HomeSefe’s new guide: 100 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency!
Benefits of Being Energy Efficient
1. Save Money
One source notes that the average household in the U.S. spends $5,500 annually on energy. However, using energy efficient appliances and investing in home improvements to improve energy efficiency can help families to save hundreds of dollars annually.
Appliances with the Energy Star rating can reduce electricity bills by 30%, and using energy-efficient lightbulbs can translate into energy bills savings of between 30% and 80%. Another source says that Americans saved north of $30 billion in 2013 on their utility bills as a result of using appliances with the Energy Star rating.
2. Protect the Environment
Of course, energy efficiency benefits the environment. If every product that we use is energy efficient, it will reduce the world’s energy waste. What does this mean? Less drilling for oil and other natural resources, which means less potential environmental hazards.
Fortunately, it’s been estimated that the U.S. uses less energy today—56% less, in fact—than it did prior to the rollout of energy-efficient technology and energy-efficient policies. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done in order to become even more energy efficient.
3. Higher Quality of Life:
Being energy efficient can also improve quality of life. Firstly, pursuing home improvements such as the installation of proper insulation will make homes cooler during the hot summer and warmer during the cold winters—all while potentially lowering energy bills.
Secondly, using energy-efficient bulbs will mean not having to change them as often as would be the case if using traditional bulbs, which means convenience and lower energy consumption.
4. World Peace
Energy efficiency not only impacts your own quality of life; it can also provide better quality for lives across the world.
How exactly does energy efficiency lead to world peace? Fighting over natural resources is as hold as human civilization; in today’s political climate, this often manifests as developing countries warring over who will take ownership of and sell natural resources to Western countries. Oil has been a driver of conflict in the Middle East for centuries.
If we can commit to using less energy, however, we can reduce the demand for natural resources, and the conflict between countries.
When Energy Efficient Is Actually Not Energy Efficient
A Pew Research study shows that energy efficiency gains are actually being eliminated as homes in America get bigger. Citing research from the Energy Department’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey, the report notes that 53.1% of household energy consumption was attributed to heating up living spaces in 1993 compared to 41.5% in 2009. And household energy consumption related to appliances, lighting, and electronics went from 24% in 1993 to 34.6% in 2009.
Another problem with the energy efficient label is that it’s sometimes misapplied. There have been cases where equipment with the ENERGY STAR® designation have been found to be no more energy efficient than comparable equipment not labeled ENERGY STAR.
As a result, consumers need to take claims of energy efficiency with a proverbial grain of salt and do a bit of background research to find appliances and other products that do as they claim.
How to Become More Energy Efficient
As you can see, there are many benefits to living in a more energy efficient world. But, there’s no need to wait for the world to change in order to start reaping the rewards of energy efficiency. Take action now by making your home more energy efficient.
There are hundreds of ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. For example, connect your computer, printer, and other devices to a power strip so you can ensure they do not continue to consume energy when they are not in use.
Switch to energy efficient light bulbs to drastically reduce the amount of energy used to light your home. If you don’t want to purchase a lot of new light bulbs all at once, try only replacing the bulbs in the fixtures that are used the most often to maximize your energy savings.
Adjusting the temperature on your thermostat, refrigerator, and water heater is another easy way to improve the energy efficiency of your home. It only takes a few minutes to make these changes so you can start experiencing some of the benefits of living in an energy efficient home.
Striving to be energy efficient can reap dividends for individuals and households. Pay attention to labels and do your research so you know the true energy efficiency of a product. It’s critical to dig deeper—perhaps by looking at reviews—before making buying decisions.
You can also tackle home improvement projects to make your home more energy efficient. Once you’ve invested in energy efficiency, there are so many ways it can change your life and the world!