Energy conservation and energy efficiency both relate to the use of energy
Did you know?
With the help of the ENERGY STAR® program, as of December 2014, families and businesses have saved $360 billion on utility bills, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 billion metric tons since 1992.
Energy conservation occurs by reducing the use of energy services. Energy conservation can include turning off the lights or setting the thermostat lower in the winter.
Energy efficiency means using less energy to provide the same level of energy services. Examples include replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and purchasing energy-efficient appliances and electronic equipment.
Energy efficiency is different from energy conservation
Sometimes energy conservation is mistaken for energy efficiency. Consider an office building with signs that read, "Be more energy efficient—use the stairs instead of the elevator." If people follow the advice of the signs and take the stairs instead of the elevators, is this an increase in energy efficiency? No. The elevator is being used less often, but the elevator still uses the same amount of electricity when it is used, so taking the stairs is actually energy conservation.
The rebound effect complicates energy conservation efforts
If the demand for energy services remains constant, then improving energy efficiency would reduce energy consumption. But some of the energy efficiency improvements might not reduce energy consumption overall. For example, although appliance efficiency standards and building codes have increased energy efficiency, consumers may offset these gains by buying larger homes and more and larger appliances. This offset is called the rebound effect.
Did you know?
People can do their own home energy audit. The ENERGY STAR® Home Energy Yardstick helps people compare their home's energy use to similar homes across the country. Home Energy Yardstick also provides recommendations for energy-saving home improvements.
There are many ways to conserve and use energy more efficiently
The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is a comprehensive source of information about energy conservation and efficiency policies, programs, and energy education.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy and Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information about financial incentives for energy conservation efforts and energy-efficient product and equipment purchases.