Energy Use and Efficiency in Buildings and Industry
Energy efficiency is one weapon in the arsenal against over-dependence on GHG-emitting fossil fuels. I believe efficiency is the best weapon: cheapest, safest, and most immediately achievable.
Energy conservation and efficiency have long been considered the low-hanging fruit in our efforts to improve our energy system. Saving energy is generally more cost-effective than generating new energy. In the words of energy futurist Amory Lovins, “negawatts” (i.e., watts of saved power) are better than megawatts. Energy conservation means using less energy or getting by with less. This can be done through active choices or interventions, such as actively turning down the lights or thermostat. A problem with conventional “energy conservation” measures is that they depend on human behavior and motivation, and may be considered inconvenient. Increasingly, however, automated systems can take care of these measures for us, setting thermostats back or shutting off lights when a building or room is unoccupied. Energy efficiency entails using energy in a more efficient way that has little or no impact on the function or service provided. Thus, the replacement of incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs can reduce energy consumption while providing the same illumination level and quality of light. Or a homeowner might purchase a higher efficiency furnace that provides the same level of heating with less energy required.