ENVIRONMENTAL
INITIATIVE

Conserve energy

Conserve Energy

Learn about conserving energy for energy sustainability, why it is important, and actionable, fossil-fuel energy conservation and renewable energy initiatives you can implement in your home or business to save money and reduce your eco and carbon footprints.

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What is Energy Conservation?

When we talk about energy conservation we ultimately want to achieve “sustainable energy”, which means using less energy than is produced or will not be depleted for future generations’ use.  The definition of sustainability applies to energy as well. 

When there is a system of energy production that relies on fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas), then this energy system is not renewable. Once the fossil fuels are depleted, the dependent energy system will stop. Hence, it is not sustainable.

Additionally, fossil fuels taken from below ground and burned for energy use emit dangerous greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide – into our atmosphere.

Sustainable energy forms, therefore, are those that are not only renewable, but also clean (no greenhouse gases). Obviously, this is the preferred method of energy production and consumption for a sustainable future.

Why is Energy Conservation Important?

When fossil fuels are burned and release harmful greenhouses gases into our atmosphere, scientists have confirmed they cause global warming which has terrible side effects, such negative human health impacts and climate change, we are becoming more familiar with, unfortunately. 

Human health impacts are seen in the forms of cancer or increased asthma cases. Climate change alone produces increased hurricane and flooding occurrences, melting ice glaciers, sea level rise, coral reef depletion, and drought, to only name a few.

The increase in human health issues cause higher medical and insurance costs, not to mention the stress and distress of taking care of failing loved ones.  The side effects from climate change also have financial, emotional and psychological impacts to humans, such as home loss, human migrations, increased dependency on bottled water, increased insurance rates, loss of businesses and income, home rebuilding costs, etc.

As you can see, when the environment is negatively impacted by greenhouse gases, it has negative impacts on our society and economy. It’s a viscous cycle that will not end until we reduce, and eventually end, our use of fossil fuels and change the current system of energy production and consumption.

In that vein, it’s beneficial to take a look at what sectors produce the most greenhouse gases.  The EPA chart below shows that the Commercial and Residential Building Sector (responsible for electrical and heating use) and the Electricity Sector accounted for 40% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

US Greenhouse Gases by Sector
Source: EPA, US Greenhouse Emissions by Sector

How To Conserve Energy

It goes without saying that energy use plays a critical role in reducing climate change and its impacts.

Therefore, there are many benefits to reducing the amount of energy we use, as well as switching to renewable energy sources, especially in the Commercial and Residential Building and Electricity sectors.  

The good news is that there are ways you can help now. Implemented individually, little to big methods of reducing your fossil fuel-sourced energy usage, to switching to renewable energy sources, will accumulate for major, positive results towards reducing our overall, negative impact on the environment – climate change.

In turn, these efforts will reduce negative impacts to our health, well-being, and finances.

The chart below from a 2015 study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows how energy was consumed in the typical U.S. household.  This breakdown of energy use type lends insight as to where day-to-day changes in each type of use can lend to positive impact.

EIA 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey

Many of these day-to-day changes are easy to do.  They involve simple, purchase habit changes or changing the energy consuming products you use, or both!  

These can be done in different levels, if you will – from the easiest “low hanging fruit” methods (see lighter-colored boxes), to more complex or up-front-cost methods (see darker-colored boxes below) that may have long-term financial savings. If you want more tips and ideas, check out the Conserve Energy Blog posts that are continually added for your convenience.

In any case, I encourage you to review these initiatives, pick some, and take the Energy Conservation Challenge below.

Energy-Conservation Initiatives: How and Why

Not using it? Turn it off!

Use the "15 Minute Rule" for electronics and lighting: if you haven't used it in 15 minutes, turn it off (if not sooner). Turning off lighting and electronics saves energy = reduces greenhouse gas = prolongs the product life = saves money!

Benefits:

Example on light bulbs: if you turn off a 60-watt incandescent bulb for one hour = .06 kilowatt hours saved. If you pay $.20/kilowatt hour = $.012 savings per bulb per hour. That is $4.38/year savings for one bulb turned off one hour/day.
Read More >

Use LED lightbulbs

Incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured in the U.S. so why not get rid of the ones you have now? Change them all out for ENERGY START certified LED bulbs to save energy = reduce greenhouse gases = save money.

Benefits:

LEDs have a general life expectancy of 30,000 hours making for less frequent buying and replacing them. Switching to ENERGY STAR LED light bulbs save up to 90% energy and 400 pounds of greenhouse gases
Read More >

Reduce your plug load

A.k.a. 'vampire load', electronics plugged in through an AC plug still use energy even if it’s turned off! Unplug unused electronics or put them on an energy-saver Advanced Power Strip (APS).

Benefits:

Placing electronics on a Tier 2 APS can result in 20-50% annual residential energy savings = reduced greenhouse gases = saving money!
Read More >

Buy ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR certified products range from light bulbs to appliances.

Benefits:

Buying ENERGY STAR certified products not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy and money, but also check out for possible rebates available that could save you MORE money.
Read More >

Turn down your thermostat

Turn down the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees for energy, cost and greenhouse gas savings.

Benefits:

Making this change for up to 8 hours a day can result in saving up to 10% a year on heating and cooling energy and costs.
Read More >

Lower the water heater temperature

Water heaters with a lower than 140-degree manufacturer-standard setting give bigger savings and are safer.

Benefits:

Reducing the temperature by 20 degrees to 120 degrees has seen up to 10% energy savings = money savings = greenhouse gas savings.
Read More >

Contact your legislators

Contact your local and state government representatives to demand better energy-saving policies and regulations.

Benefits:

When government provides policies, regulations and programs, like ENERGY STAR, to the public, we all win in more choices for energy and money saving products and reduce our impact on climate change.
Read More >

Wash clothes in cold water

If 90% of the energy goes towards heating clothes washing water, take that energy use out of the equation for savings across the board.

Benefits:

Washing in cold water not only makes your clothes last longer, you also save on clothing costs, up to 4 kW/hour per load and energy costs, and hundreds of tons of CO2 emissions every year.
Read More >

Hang clothes to dry

Whether you line dry outside, or hang your clothes on hangers or a clothes rack, doing so increases the longevity of your clothes and takes the dryer energy out of the equation.

Benefits:

With clothes dryers using 5% of U.S. household energy, cutting down the use of these dryers reduce our country's greenhouse gas emissions as well as save households hundreds of dollars a year.
Read More >

Use blinds or drapes to control indoor temperatures

Operable window coverings improve indoor comfort and reduce heating and cooling bills.

Benefits:

Drawn during summer, medium-colored or white plastic-backed draperies reduce heat gain by 33% and regular draperies alone drawn in the winter can save 10% on heating bills.
Read More >

Plant a tree

Plant a tree every year for shade, beauty, habitat for wildlife, and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere.

Benefits:

One new tree can reduce up to 13 pounds of CO2 per year and more as it gets older. Tree shade on buildings reduces need for electrical cooling. Combined, trees can greatly reduce climate change impacts and financial costs.
Read More >

Install lighting controls

Lighting dimmers, sensors and timers can improve indoor comfort, save energy and money

Benefits:

Using one or a combination of dimmers and sensors can have 20-60% potential lighting energy savings, which can provide a payback on investment as well as continual electric bill and environment benefits.
Read More >

Present ballot measures

Don't think your local or state regulations are enough for protecting our environment? Present your ballot measure!

Benefits:

Worth the time, your own ballot measure could promote sustainable business practices increased building efficiencies in your next election benefiting all for a long time to come.
Read More >

Install energy-efficient windows

Go for savings in soundproofing, comfort, maintenance, dollars and energy use by installing energy efficient windows and doors.

Benefits:

Look for the ENERGY STAR label in your purchase to ensure your savings across the board. You may even qualify for a rebate!
Read More >

Install a solar water heater

Upfront solar water heater costs can have huge savings in the long run.

Benefits:

After your research confirms this is a wise purchase, you may then recoup your up-front costs with 50-80% savings in your water heating bills (14% of household use) every month. That translates to CO2 savings every month, too!
Read More >

Upgrade your insulation

When’s the last time you checked your home insulation? Most homes built before 1980 lack insulation for energy efficiency.

Benefits:

Adding energy-efficient home insulation can produce 10-50% savings on heating and cooling bills and reduce home greenhouse gas emissions.
Read More >

Install rooftop solar

The cost of solar has reduced significantly over the years making it more available than ever before. Do this initiative after the others so you know what your new energy bills will be and how much solar you truly need.

Benefits:

Whether connected to the grid or not, installed solar reduces use of fossil fuels from the start. You could also give back to the grid or get a rebate, improving your return on investment. Check out state and federal government programs.
Read More >

Take the "Energy Conservation Challenge"!

Go a step further and take the CORR Concepts “Energy Conservation Challenge” by doing the following:

1. Take the pledge to turn off all lights and electronics, in your home or office, that are not in use. Get others to take the pledge.

2. Pick at least one more of the Energy Conservation Initiatives and implement them into your everyday life. Periodically, go back to remeasure your Ecological and/or Carbon Footprint to see if you’ve lowered your score. Keep adding more Energy Conservation Initiatives to your daily life to keep reducing your footprint!

3. Share this webpage to at least one person so that the sustainability message will spread and enrich and benefit us all.

What are you waiting for?

Measure your Ecological Footprint

Measure your Carbon Footprint

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