Energy efficiency means using energy smartly, efficiently, using it less to do the same job. Energy efficiency is a very simple yet powerful concept that can minimize effect on climate change, cut dependence on foreign oil and save us money. The principle of energy efficiency is that When we use energy to get something done, use it as little as possible. If everyone uses energy efficiently, the world will become a better place to live for us and our future generations.
For example, if we ride a bicycle with rusty chain and flat tires, we have to pedal a lot. But if we put a little grease on the chain and fill proper air in the tires, we need less energy to go same distance. If we extend the same principle to our electrical appliance, we can save a lot of energy.
Heating and Cooling
Modern homes use climate control, and use heating and cooling energy to keep it at desired temperature. The principle of thermal exchange tells us that Hot and cold areas constantly strive to exchange their thermal energy. The warmth inside a house wants to get out into the cold air and vice versa. To achieve energy efficiency, the house must be constructed or renovated to minimize the transfer of heat. It means using proper insulation to ceiling and walls and use of air sealing.
Take Light bulbs for an example. An incandescent bulb (the regular glass bulb) uses more energy to achieve the same brightness as a compact fluorescent, or CFL Bulb. CFL bulbs will do the same job in about one fourth the energy cost. LED (light emitting Diodes) uses even less energy for the same amount of light. LED bulbs are more expensive than CFL, but they greatly reduce energy costs.
Additionally, You can use timer or photo-cell to turn on and off outside lights. Using photo cell you can save lot of energy because sunlight keep changing. You need lights to turn on late and turn off early in summer, and vice versa in winter.
Doors and Windows
Glass is a conductor of thermal energy. To reduce the transfer of energy, we can use sun film coating or light reflective coating on glass. We can use low-e windows and doors (which has additional layer of glass with inert gases trapped between layers of glass) to reduce the thermal energy transfer. That way, we need less energy for climate control of our home.
If we use energy efficient electrical appliance, we save lot of energy. These days we have energy star logo with stars. The higher the stars, the better energy efficiency. So if you replace old refrigerator with energy star new refrigerator, you can save a lot on energy costs.
Similarly, you can use smaller and more fuel efficient cars to travel. You can use public transport or use car pool. You can use bicycle for local travel to save on gas and help environment.
New technology costs more, but as people purchase energy efficient products in bulk, the price drops. The more efficient the technology is, the less you pay for energy while using them.
Payback period is an important concept for cost conscious consumers. Payback period is a point, where energy saving benefit will match the investment in a particular product or technology. Here, it is appropriate to stress that this is not only about money but our environment, reduced dependence on foreign oil and less drag on our foreign reserves. Every watt of energy saved is equivalent to watt or energy produced. Let's strive for energy efficiency.