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Efficient energy use

The meaning of «efficient energy use»

Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services and can also reduce effects of air pollution. For example, insulating a building allows it to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a thermal comfort. Installing light-emitting diode bulbs, fluorescent lighting, or natural skylight windows reduces the amount of energy required to attain the same level of illumination compared to using traditional incandescent light bulbs. Improvements in energy efficiency are generally achieved by adopting a more efficient technology or production process[2] or by application of commonly accepted methods to reduce energy losses.

There are many motivations to improve energy efficiency. Decreasing energy use reduces energy costs and may result in a financial cost saving to consumers if the energy savings offset any additional costs of implementing an energy-efficient technology. Reducing energy use is also seen as a solution to the problem of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, improved energy efficiency in buildings, industrial processes and transportation could reduce the world's energy needs in 2050 by one third, and help control global emissions of greenhouse gases.[3] Another important solution is to remove government-led energy subsidies that promote high energy consumption and inefficient energy use in more than half of the countries in the world.[4]

Energy efficiency and renewable energy are said to be the twin pillars of sustainable energy policy[5] and are high priorities in the sustainable energy hierarchy. In many countries energy efficiency is also seen to have a national security benefit because it can be used to reduce the level of energy imports from foreign countries and may slow down the rate at which domestic energy resources are depleted.

Energy efficiency has proved to be a cost-effective strategy for building economies without necessarily increasing energy consumption. For example, the state of California began implementing energy-efficiency measures in the mid-1970s, including building code and appliance standards with strict efficiency requirements. During the following years, California's energy consumption has remained approximately flat on a per capita basis while national US consumption doubled.[6] As part of its strategy, California implemented a "loading order" for new energy resources that puts energy efficiency first, renewable electricity supplies second, and new fossil-fired power plants last.[7] States such as Connecticut and New York have created quasi-public Green Banks to help residential and commercial building-owners finance energy efficiency upgrades that reduce emissions and cut consumers' energy costs.[8]

Lovin's Rocky Mountain Institute points out that in industrial settings, "there are abundant opportunities to save 70% to 90% of the energy and cost for lighting, fan, and pump systems; 50% for electric motors; and 60% in areas such as heating, cooling, office equipment, and appliances." In general, up to 75% of the electricity used in the US today could be saved with efficiency measures that cost less than the electricity itself, the same holds true for home settings. The US Department of Energy has stated that there is potential for energy saving in the magnitude of 90 Billion kWh by increasing home energy efficiency.[9]

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