One thing that I’ve found in my interactions as a solar installer is that many people use the terms “conservation” and “efficiency” interchangeably. To the average person, using less energy is using less energy. The truth though is that conservation and efficiency are actually different things that when used together, create a force multiplier in your homes economy.
The easiest way to think of conservation versus efficiency is to use the light bulb in your bedroom as an example. If you have an older incandescent light, it uses 100 watts of energy while it’s lighting up your room. Now if it’s on while you’re not in the room, you’re wasting energy. In order to conserve energy, you should make sure you’re turning the lights off when you leave the room. When you’re conserving energy, you’re using the energy consuming device less than previously. Instead of the light bulb being on 8 hours a day, now it’s only on 4 hours a day. Now if you want to be more efficient, you’ll need to change the light bulb.
Efficiency is how much energy is required to complete a task. In this case, we are lighting up a room and 100 watts of energy is required in order to light up the room. If I switch to an LED light bulb, I can light up the room to the same brightness, but instead of using 100 watts of energy, I’ll only need to use 20 watts of energy. That makes my LED light bulbs, five times more efficient than my 100 watt light bulb. I’m completing the same task, lighting up the room, by using 1/5 of the energy as before.
When you combine the efficiency of switching out your light bulbs to one that consumes less power, with making sure you turn your light off when you leave the room, you save the most energy possible. Ultimately you’ll end up reducing the consumption of your home economy. This idea of efficiency and conservation can be applied to all sorts of things, not just light bulbs. What things do you think would be good to apply conservation and efficiency principles to?