Energy efficiency and conservation
Energy efficiency means using less energy to provide the same level of energy services. Examples of energy efficient practices include replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and purchasing energy-efficient appliances and electronic equipment.
Energy conservation occurs when we reduce the energy services we use, such as turning off lights when we leave a room or setting building thermostats lower in the winter and higher in the summer.
Did you know?
Since 1992, ENERGY STAR® and its partners have helped save American families and businesses $430 billion on their energy bills—also achieving broad emissions reductions—all through voluntary action.
Energy efficiency is different from energy conservation
Sometimes people confuse energy efficiency with energy conservation. If someone followed the advice on a sign that says, "Be energy efficient—use the stairs instead of the elevator," is he or she increasing energy efficiency? No. The elevator would operate less often, but it would still use the same amount of electricity when it did operate. Taking the stairs instead of an elevator is energy conservation. Two or more people using the elevator at the same time is more efficient than just one person using it.
The rebound effect complicates energy conservation efforts
If demand for energy services did not change, then improving energy efficiency would reduce energy consumption. However, some energy efficiency improvements might not reduce energy consumption overall. For example, although appliance efficiency standards and building codes have increased energy efficiency, consumers could offset these gains by buying larger homes or 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.
We can conserve and use energy efficiently in many ways
The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is a comprehensive source of information on energy conservation and efficiency policies, programs, and energy education.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on financial incentives for energy conservation efforts and energy-efficient product and equipment purchases.