People use energy all the time, whether it’s for transportation, temperature control, cooling or entertainment. The choices you make about how you use energy have a significant impact on both other people and the environment. When planning your energy-efficient home upgrade, it pays to understand more about energy usage itself, like learning the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency for starters. These terms may seem interchangeable, but they are actually quite different from each other.
ENERGY CONSERVATION refers to changing daily habits to reduce your use of energy. For example, turning the lights off before leaving the room, or unplugging your TV or game console, are considered steps toward energy conservation. So is recycling aluminum cans or closing the tap in a faucet. Simply put, energy conservation is about using less energy to sustain available resources.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY, on the other hand, means using energy more wisely. You can make this possible by using technological advances that require less energy to provide the same service. For instance, when you replace an electrical appliance–such as a refrigerator, computer, washing machine or office printer–with a more energy-efficient model, the new equipment will provide the same function but will use less energy. This allows you to save considerably on energy costs. Another good example is lighting. If you have an incandescent lamp, you can replace it with LED bulbs, which use less energy while still producing the same amount of light.
How Do You Know if a Product is Energy-Efficient?
All you need to do is look for the ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps homeowners save money and protect the environment by identifying energy-efficient products. In fact, about 90% of American households recognize it, making it one of the most widely known symbols when it comes to energy efficiency. If you see the white and blue ENERGY STAR label, you’ll know that you’re looking at a product that has met stringent energy performance requirements.
Energy efficiency isn’t limited to just choosing household items that are especially designed to save energy–it can be applied to home improvement, as well. Now that you have a better understanding of what energy efficiency is, you can make more sustainable decisions about the building products you choose, whether they’re windows, doors, siding or roofing.