Energy Efficiency

Energy Waste

I had a bit of an environmental awakening recently. I’ve always liked nature and the outdoors--I grew up hiking, camping, hunting, and all that. But for all the time I spent in nature, I never thought much about the environment. I like the woods but didn’t think about logging, loved the fresh air but didn’t think about pollution, and so on. Here at college, I’ve made friends who are more focused on the big picture, and as we watched nature documentaries and spent time together I really got clued into the importance of protecting the environment. But now I feel overwhelmed. When I look at my energy consumption, in particular, I don’t know what to do about it. The heating and cooling of my parents’ home and my off-campus apartment, the gas I use in my car to get to and from school, and even the electricity that I use when I turn on lights--it’s all adding up and hurting the Earth. I want to cut back, but where should I start?

We Americans use a lot of energy. In fact, the United States accounts for 24% of the world’s energy use despite having only 5% of the world’s population. Compounding the problem is the fact that 81% of that energy comes from fossil fuels. Plus, lots of it is wasted--the US ranks among the worst countries in the world in terms of energy waste. That’s not good news for the environment.

So what can be done? The reality is that you don’t have to re-shape your life in order to save a little energy. Sure, we’d all use less energy if we lived in tents and foraged for food, but there are plenty of commonsense intermediate steps we can take to improve our energy footprints.

The key idea is efficiency. You can’t easily stop driving or stop heating your living space, but you can find ways to use less energy when you do so.

With that in mind, let’s look at heating first. It takes energy to heat your space, of course, but the question of efficiency really comes down to how well you retain your climate-controlled air. It doesn’t take that much energy to heat your room, but if you open the window, you’ll have to keep heating it continually--because the air you just used energy to heat is quite literally flying out the window! Looking for drafts and insulation issues is a great place to start. You can invest in draft stoppers for your off-campus apartment, while your parents may be take more serious long-term steps like putting in new insulation. A bonus: you could save up to 15% on your heating and cooling bills!

You can also use smart home technology to improve your climate control efficiency, say technicians at AccuTemp. Modern technology can help you track your energy use. You’ll also be able to set timers and control the temperature from afar--allowing you to ease up on energy use when you’re out of town or asleep.

As for your car, you can make the same kind of decisions: it’s all about efficiency! You can invest in a hybrid car or a vehicle that gets superior gas mileage. And keep your car carefully maintained, say educators at NYADI, the College of Automotive and Diesel Technology--any automotive and diesel technician will tell you that a poorly maintained vehicle is an inefficient one.

Ultimately, you should be able to make serious changes to your energy consumption without changing your lifestyle. You don’t have to stop living in comfort or driving--you just need to do so wisely and efficiently!

“What we need to do is really improve efficiency standards, develop in full scale renewable and alternative energy. and use the one resource we have in abundance: our creativity.” -- Lois Capps

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