Energy Efficient Efficiency

Energy Efficient, Efficiency, Examples, Green Building, Green Builders, Energy-Efficient Homes, Green Houses

Energy-Efficiency vs. Energy Conservation

Which Is It? 

 

Our office sign, designed to produce guilt in people who use the elevator and a certain degree of smugness in those who climb the stairs, has been known to create arguments with our techno staff.

"Take the Stairs–Be More Energy Efficient"

Susan does take the stairs and feels good about it because she wants to be earth-friendly. She argues, "I am getting where I want to go; the elevator is using no energy; I am being energy-efficient."

Mike likes the easy life. He always takes the elevator. He opines, "If I take the stairs, I am not getting where I want to go with the same degree of ease. I am using less energy but at a reduced level of service because I have to walk rather than ride. It’s energy conservation, not energy efficiency."

When is it energy efficiency and when is it energy conservation?

Energy efficiency is the relative economical use of energy to provide goods or services as opposed to a more extravagant use of energy to provide the same goods or services.

The less energy that is used to perform a certain service, the more energy efficient it is.

The more service that is given for the same amount of energy, the more energy-efficient it is.

Energy conservation is the reduction in the amount of energy used to provide goods or services through sensible use, economy, or elimination of waste.

The difference between these two terms is better understood with examples.

1. Energy-efficiency increases when energy inputs are reduced for a given level of service. In 2002, you moved from Bedford to Waco. You bought a home there and installed a new and improved HVAC system. Both homes were 2500 square feet. The new system used less energy than the system in your former home while keeping both homes cooled to 80° in summer. Your new system is more energy-efficient.

2. Energy-efficiency increases when there are increased or enhanced services for a given amount of energy inputs. In 2006, you were given an enormous raise (why not–after all, this is fiction) and transferred back to the Grapevine office. You built a new home in Grapevine the same size as your home in Waco but with lavish appointments and expensive systems. Your new HVAC system is top-notch. It actually allows you to cool your home to a more comfortable temperature (76°) while using the same or less energy than your former system used. It is more energy-efficient. 

3. As utility prices continued to rise, you decided to keep your home in Grapevine the same temperature as the home in Waco (80°). You are now using your more energy-efficient system to conserve energy.

There is also behavior change to conserve energy, which is sometimes called energy efficiency.

Your office in Waco had an old, slow elevator that creaked from floor-to-floor, gobbling energy as it went. If four people in your Waco office took the stairs instead of the elevator, they were conserving energy. Less energy was used but less service was given.

When you moved to Grapevine, however, your company installed a new elevator and almost everyone prefers to use it now. The new elevator actually uses less energy than the old Grapevine elevator and much less energy than the creaking antique in Waco. The new elevator is more energy efficient. 

Four people in Grapevine continue to take the stairs. They are still conserving energy in Grapevine but they are not conserving as much energy as the four stair-climbers in Waco conserve.

Why?

Because the elevator in Grapevine actually uses less energy than the elevator in Waco does for the same amount of service.

Clear as mud???

Copyright 2008 Green Building and Remodeling Reprinted with permission

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