Energy Conservation and Efficiency
Energy efficiency is using technology that requires less energy and energy conservation is changing behaviors to use less energy
People use energy every day, for transportation, cooking, heating and cooling rooms, manufacturing, lighting, entertainment and many other uses. The choices people make about how they use energy affects the environment and people's lives.
Conserving energy helps the planet and saves money—so why don’t more people make the effort to do it? Maybe they don’t realize how easy it is or what an impact they can make on the environment by following simple conservation tips. If each person around the world did just one thing to save energy, it would make Earth a cleaner place with a healthier environment. We can use less energy by making even the simplest things more efficient—from our light bulbs to our cars, from our home air conditioners to our computers.
Easy Ways to Conserve Energy
- Set your clothes washer to the warm or cold-water setting, not hot
- Turn down your water heater thermostat
- Clean or replace air filters as recommended
- Use less hot water by installing low-flow shower heads
- Whenever possible, walk, bike, carpool or use mass transit
Becoming more energy efficient requires us to change how our buildings are made, how we heat our homes and how we light our classrooms.
For example, when coal is burned in a power plant, the energy released is used to superheat water, just as you would boil a pot of water on your stove. The process creates very hot and high-pressure steam that then pushes a propeller. The spinning motion of this propeller turns a large magnet that generates an electrical current that is then transmitted to your home. But that steam at the power plant is still very hot after it has been used to create electricity. Rather than letting this heat escape as wasted energy, it is possible to send the steam out to homes and buildings to provide warmth on cold winter days. This process, called “combined heat and power,” will require us to rethink the ways in which we live and work, making our cities and buildings more connected.
Another energy-saving efficiency can be found in hybrid cars. These cars capture a portion of the energy traditionally wasted as heat from friction between the tires and brakes. When you rub your hands together fast, the heat you feel is created by friction. This same effect occurs when the brakes on your car slow the rotating wheels—the energy used to move the wheel is converted into heat. In hybrid cars, this contact recycles some of that wasted energy into electricity that can then offset some of the gasoline used in the car’s engine.