Energy-efficient is reducing energy consumption by using less energy to generate the same work output. And being proactive is to think of ways ahead on what measures to act upon and what measures to avoid. Here in this discussion, we will be shedding some light on what it takes to be proactive with energy.
But before that, let’s hear some of the common misconceptions about energy efficiency.
Common Misconceptions about Energy Efficiency
Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation are Two Different Concept
People think that energy conservation and energy efficiency is the same concept, but it is not. Reducing energy consumption by cutting on the work output isn’t the same as gaining the same result with less energy consumption.
Think hypothetically for now. You cut your usage of a washing machine as it leads to higher consumption of power. In a way, you just conserved energy by limiting your desired output, i.e., you have decreased the use of your washing machine.
But if you buy a new washing machine that runs on low energy than a regular washing machine, then the action you just implemented is referred to as being energy efficient.
Energy Efficient Appliances are Expensive
Most people think that energy-efficient appliances are more expensive than conventional ones. However, you must think of these energy-efficient appliances as an investment rather than just appliances. In the long run, these appliances will accumulate your savings over time rather than the devices you bought based on up-front cost.
Big Energy Savings Require Significant Investment
People or one could say commercial buildings think that installing extensive energy-saving systems requires massive investment. As we already said, people tend to look at only up-front costs, so they opt to choose a conventional alternative.
They often leave out that their electrical appliances will significantly add cost to their operating expenses when left in standby mode. E.g., when devices are left in standby mode or even turned off, do use energy, which we refer to as “Phantom load.”
We have seen that companies who haven’t used an energy-saving approach have been bearing this huge cost without them knowing. If they had installed an energy-saving system in the first place, then they wouldn’t have to pay 200-300 dollars on extra energy consumption costs annually.
Now that you know some of the misconceptions on energy consumption and energy efficiency, let us move towards what measures to take to be proactive with energy.
Local Energy Generation and Distribution
Industries and homes have been using the main-grid line power system for grid supply. But the better alternative could be generating industry in an in-house facility. We are talking about generating electricity through renewable energy. The initial investment might be high, but it outweighs both cost and a healthy environment in the long run. A smart, proactive energy preserving company needs to practice this approach.
Design of the Workplace or Buildings
When given enough thought, the design of a building can improve buildings’ energy efficiency through better insulation. Architectural systems that strategically help in placement of windows are more energy-efficient and well insulated.
Your offices and houses could be leaking a tremendous amount of energy if there’s a leak of heated air escaping during the winter and cooled air in the summer. And this directly results in a higher cost for electricity usage bill.
Here are a few of the things that you could do to discontinue this leaking of energy.
Get a Professional to Audit your Office or Home
Consult with the local electric or gas supplier to perform an energy audit on your office and house. Who better knows about the power leakage than the one who installed it? And, if he isn’t able to do so, then ask him to introduce the service.
Insulation is a Proactive Measure
Better insulation can go a long way in helping you reduce the cost of energy. It is found that one-third of heated air escapes due to an uninsulated loft. Also, a gap in the floorboards and skirting boards can let warm and cold air escape. This energy loss can be prevented by the use of sealants and double glazing windows.
Use Plastic Strips and Curtains
Plastic strip doors and curtain walls in the workplace can prevent this energy loss once in effect. These vinyl strip doors and curtains effectively save energy by controlling temperature. They are easy to install and are efficient in using your workspace.
Most of the time, your office and home’s heating and cooling system might be working fine even though they aren’t regularly serviced. However, they might not be energy efficient like the first time you installed it in your office. Thus, regular maintenance and servicing of these heating and cooling systems help in reducing energy bills.
Only Use What You Need
We usually take energy for granted; however, this thinking of ours ultimately causes inefficiency in energy consumption and a higher bill.
Just because it is winter doesn’t mean you need to turn on the heater at max. You can turn on the heater at a lower temperature, wear a sweater or any other warm cloth and be efficient with energy consumption.
Check and turn off heating appliances when leaving the house. As for the bathroom, you can insulate it by using an insulated jacket, which will trap the heat and cover the investment within a few months.
Installing Energy Efficient Lighting System
Lighting a workplace and house accounts for 15% of the total electricity bill. Use energy-efficient light bulbs like compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps instead of conventional light bulbs. Also, switch off the lights when not in use.
Those were all the proactive measures you as an individual could implement. Now, what about policies and government subsidies? Let’s dive into it for a bit.
Nowadays, electric vehicles have arrived in every design. Modern designs from Tesla and several other electric vehicle companies are now popular too. These vehicles have improved fuel economy, enabling consumers to get the same comfort level with less energy consumption.
Also, public transportation should be encouraged rather than private vehicles. The available electric buses emit less carbon with the consumption of minimum energy. Along with a fully electric vehicle, driving a hybrid car is a proactive measure for energy consumption.
Policies like labeling electrical appliances with information on energy savings should be implemented. This will inspire consumers to know how much energy they consume and will have every relevant information regarding the electronics they buy.
The government’s implementation of certification systems on meeting energy efficiency standards will help promote energy-efficient products in the market.
The government should implement financial incentives for companies who are into energy-efficient technologies. These benefits will help these companies lower their product prices than an equivalent product with an inefficient option. This way, consumers will be encouraged to buy energy-efficient products than non-efficient products.
These were the aspects on which governments too can be proactive with energy consumption and efficiency.
However, when the energy cost gets low by proper energy efficiency, there might be some repercussions that can backfire in uncertain ways.
This is a type of strategic government intervention that encourages energy consumption, especially in the household. An example is including information about customers’ neighbors’ energy use, which creates social pressure and, eventually, competition among them. This encourages consumers to decrease their energy usage.
One of such is the Rebound Effect.
This effect refers to the phenomenon that improved energy efficiency resulting in excessive use of such energy due to the decrease in operating such energy efficient products.
Take this hypothetical example:
A workplace replaces an inefficient conventional air conditioner with an energy-efficient air conditioner, which uses 33% less energy to operate than a regular inefficient air conditioner. This will let the buyer think that no matter how long they operate, the electricity bill will always be lower than their previous conventional air conditioner.
So they start using (exploiting) the air conditioner for a more extended period. This will eventually have a rebound effect that results in increased energy usage.
Final Words on What It Takes to be Proactive with Energy
Misconceptions have been there with energy efficiency and energy conservation and will always be there. Implementing proactive measures can be challenging to overcome. But once you commit to it, you can see the inevitable result in cost reduction.