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Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency: Examples and Differences

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  • 0:05 Conservation vs. Efficiency
  • 1:08 Energy Conservation
  • 1:53 Energy Efficiency
  • 3:47 Energy Audit
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Saving energy is an important topic, but energy conservation and energy efficiency are not the same thing. Learn what the difference is and some examples of both energy conservation and energy efficiency.

Conservation vs. Efficiency

Have you ever heard a long-distance runner talk about pacing himself during a race? When a conservative runner paces himself, he cuts back on his speed. This saves his energy, so he has enough left at the end of the race to get across the finish line. An efficient runner runs his race a little differently because he focuses on using proper running mechanics. Because he uses a good running technique, he does not waste energy and gets to the finish line faster.

Energy conservation and energy efficiency are not only important topics for long-distance runners, they are also important when discussing our reliance on carbon-based fossil fuels. By practicing both energy conservation and energy efficiency, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and help the environment. In this lesson, you will learn the difference between conserving energy and being more energy-efficient and see examples of both.

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation is the act of saving energy by reducing a service. In other words, to conserve energy, you need to cut back on your usage. Examples include driving your car fewer miles per week, turning your thermostat down a degree or two in the wintertime and unplugging your computer or home appliances when they are not in use.

In all of these examples, you are reducing the amount of energy you use by doing without or making due with less fuel or electricity. While energy conservation might cut down on your comfort level and make things a bit less convenient, it can help reduce monthly heating and electricity bills and save money at the gas pump.

Energy Efficiency

Energy conservation is an effective way to lower overall energy consumption, and the same can be said for improved energy efficiency. However, the terms do not mean the same thing. Energy efficiency is defined as saving energy, but keeping the same level of service. For example, if you turn off the lights when you leave a room, you are practicing energy conservation. If you replace an inefficient incandescent light bulb with a more efficient compact fluorescent bulb, you are practicing energy efficiency.

You can keep these terms straight by thinking of energy conservation as 'cutting back' and energy efficiency as using energy more 'effectively.' Energy efficiency uses advances in science and technology to provide services and products that require the use of less energy. Examples include replacing older model appliances, such as a refrigerator or washing machine, with newer, energy-efficient models. Modern appliances use significantly less energy than older models, yet provide the same or better service.

Another example would be adding insulation to the attic and walls of a home. This added insulation allows the homeowner to reduce heating and cooling energy while maintaining a comfortable temperature within the home. Energy efficiency in the home can also be improved by replacing drafty windows with new, energy-efficient windows.

Newer windows prevent heat from escaping in the winter months, keeping the home temperature consistent and making your furnace work less. Even the way a building is designed can help improve energy efficiency. For example, the use of skylights or structural features that reflect light into a room can provide abundant lighting while reducing the need for electric lights.

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