Energy is something that we have taken for granted for centuries. Whether it is burning fires to create heat or generating electricity to power our homes, it is there when we need it. Needless to say, our modern lifestyles come complete with various energy demands10. We use an incredible amount of energy every day, with global demand increasing by 2.3% in 2018.
Despite increasing efforts, our switch to clean, renewable energy remains a work in progress. As such, we still burn fossil fuels for a lot of our energy needs, which is contributing to global warming. More than ever, this highlights the importance of energy efficiency and saving energy.
The truth is, without energy, we would not be able to continue to live in the way that we do. From powering our cars with fuel to charging our phones and heating our homes, we are a society reliant on consistent energy to fuel our lifestyles.
However, as we face up to climate change and the impacts now being felt across the world, we can choose to make a difference. Saving energy, simply put, means we have to produce less. Together, we can make a considerable impact where we all save more energy. What’s more, we can save money on our energy bills too.
Our relentless use of and growth in energy demand has led to huge increases in supply. Most of which is generated from fossil fuels. Yet, humans are now facing one of the biggest problems we have ever seen - global warming5.
Our constant need to meet energy demands has come with the production of greenhouse gases. Energy production has caused us to release harmful carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. This has resulted in numerous problems that put ecosystems and wildlife at risk4. And impact human lives.
Unfortunately, decades or even centuries of carelessness have put us in a precarious position where we have little real control over what is going to happen. However, one thing is for sure, we need to make changes to make a difference. The importance, therefore, of saving energy cannot be underestimated.
The reality of the situation is that if we can do all we can to save energy, then we give ourselves a chance to save the environment.
Power plants can no longer keep pumping harmful gases into the atmosphere. We can no longer needlessly delve into fossil fuel reserves as they are running out7. We have to take a considered approach to how we save energy. We have to act to reduce our energy consumption.
This is going to take a global commitment. Every single person is going to have to play their part. Businesses will have to commit, and governments will need to invest time, money, and effort.
Researchers have posited that saving energy, or energy conservation, is critical. And even more important than efficiency, which can lower costs and result in even more consumption9.
Meanwhile, as policy changes, renewable energy installation and use are accelerating. Clearly, this is good news as we start to realize the advantages of wind energy and the benefit of solar energy.
However, it will take time for us to move over to renewable energy for the majority of our energy needs. A number of countries are now targeting between 2030 and 2050. Thus, saving energy can help reduce demand and, in turn, reduce fossil fuels being burnt to light and heat our homes. This will remain the case for at least a decade or two6.
So, global warming is happening right now. Scientists have been discussing the possible outcomes of global warming for decades, yet we can now see the effects. It is affecting health and causing problems such as extreme weather and natural disasters. Further forecasts suggest a massive movement of people due to droughts and rising sea levels will challenge us all1.
Around the world, we meet most of our energy needs by burning fossil fuels such as coal or crude oil. This is how we have been doing it for decades. It meets our demands, but our environment and the planet feel the effects. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide are just a few of the harmful emissions that enter the atmosphere as a result.
The Greenhouse Effect is a real thing8, and carbon dioxide is to blame.
As CO2 enters the atmosphere, it absorbs the warmth of the sun, and so, it traps the heat in the same way as a greenhouse. Whilst this happens naturally, humans have compounded the problem. As we have pumped more CO2 into the atmosphere, it has meant more heat gets trapped than is natural. This is causing a multitude of problems, such as:
It does not matter whether we make huge changes or we all contribute small changes; we all have to play our part. The UK Government has set targets to reduce emissions by responding to various scenarios2. While the Australian government has set targets to make the switch to renewable energy.
Countries such as Germany, Denmark, and Sweden now all have targets in place. From one side of the world to the other, progress is being made.
However, many argue we need to get to move faster. The Greenhouse Effect is a ticking time bomb, and once it goes off, there is no turning back the clock because the damage will be done. Arguably the importance of saving energy has never been more timely or prominent.
We all need to reduce our carbon footprint. Or in other words, both understanding and taking steps to reduce the number of greenhouse gases we are each responsible for.
From large, global businesses to homeowners, we can all take practical steps to reduce our energy use. In doing so, we help to realize numerous different benefits that will impact our lives in different ways. And, all going well, help to prevent the worst effects of climate change radically impacting our children and their children’s generations.
Most of us are aware that our natural resources are going to run out. Gas could run out by the middle of the 21st century, while oil could run out sooner. What’s more, we could run out of coal by the end of the 21st century.
This highlights yet another reason why it is important to save energy. If we can reduce our energy use, we can conserve natural resources. We can stop damaging the planet and leave our fossil fuels alone. To do this, we should take a two-pronged approach which would involve us all being energy-savvy and switching fast to renewable energy.
If we reduce our energy use in homes and factories, it saves money and resources. The lower demand will slow down the rate at which we consume our finite natural resources.
From mining natural resources to polluting production processes, fossil-fuel energy causes harm to wildlife as well as ecosystems.
Despite an increase in renewable energy use, we still draw on fossil fuels. We have already used up a large portion of fossil fuels, and in doing so, we have destroyed habitats. Along with this, biodiversity is disappearing at an alarming rate. One of the main reasons for the loss of biodiversity is air pollution3.
Meanwhile, the big oil companies cannot escape the fact that oil spills have occurred over the years resulting from fossil fuel energy production. These man-made disasters have killed marine life and wildlife and have altered the chemical balance of the oceans.
What’s more, as coal and oil-fueled power plants create toxic waste, some inevitably find their way into rivers and streams. This waste is poisonous to animals and humans.
Another benefit of saving energy is that we can save money. While this is not going to turn around the negative effects of producing energy from polluting sources, energy costs matter to homeowners and businesses.
Just by turning off lights, altering our heating settings, or investing in insulation, we can make our homes more energy-efficient. In turn, we can see the results of less energy usage tangibly with cheaper electric bills.
Quite simply put, we need to consume less energy. Along with this, we also need to conserve more. For more ideas on what actions you can take to save energy, check out our tips to save electricity at home, at school, and for kids.
While homeowners may feel as though their small changes are insignificant, it is these small steps that can make a big difference. The truth is, even the smallest of changes can change our levels of energy consumption.
For example, if every person in the US changed just one inefficient lightbulb for an energy-efficient lightbulb, it would equate to removing 1.3 million cars from the roads. While installing energy-efficient appliances when the time comes can save 20% of their usage on average.
The reality is that it is not just about using less. Of course, this can make a vast impact on how much energy we use, but it is not enough. Therefore, we need to consider switching to the various types of renewable energy that provide cleaner alternatives.
We can all also help accelerate the move to renewable energy to reduce the worst impacts of climate change. We can take the time to understand the role renewable energy has in reducing climate change.
Armed with this knowledge, we can choose to support companies using renewable energy. Homeowners and businesses can make the switch to green energy suppliers. They could even install their own solar or wind energy systems.
We need to seek new ways in which we can harness energy, and this is where a renewable energy future becomes crucial.
The technology that surrounds solar energy and wind energy is evolving. It is fast becoming cheaper, more efficient, and more widely used. Despite this, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Our goal and main focus are to save energy. Our planet is in dire need of help, and we are the only ones who can attempt to do anything about it. The importance of saving energy is something that we cannot and should not ignore, and now it is time for us to do our bit.
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|2||PAUL EKINS, GABRIAL ANANDARAJAH & NEIL STRACHAN (2011) Towards a low-carbon economy: scenarios and policies for the UK, Climate Policy, 11:2, 865-882, DOI: 10.3763/cpol.2010.0126|
|3||The Effects of Air Pollution on Biodiversity: A Synopsis. Jerry R. Barker and David T. Tingey.|
|4||The Greenhouse Effect, Climatic Change, and Ecosystems. B. BOLIN, J. JÄGER. AND B. R. DÖÖS|
|5||Peters, G., Andrew, R., Boden, T. et al. The challenge to keep global warming below 2 °C. Nature Clim Change 3, 4–6 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1783|
|6||IRENA (2018), Global Energy Transformation: A roadmap to 2050, International Renewable Energy Agency, Abu Dhabi.|
|7||Shahriar Shafiee, Erkan Topal, When will fossil fuel reserves be diminished?, Energy Policy, Volume 37, Issue 1, 2009, Pages 181-189, ISSN 0301-4215, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2008.08.016|
|8||The Greenhouse Effect: Science and Policy. BY STEPHEN H. SCHNEIDER. SCIENCE10 FEB 1989 : 771-781|
|9||Horace Herring, Energy efficiency—a critical view, Energy, Volume 31, Issue 1, 2006, Pages 10-20, ISSN 0360-5442, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2004.04.055|
|10||Global warming and energy demand. Edited by Terry Barker, Paul Ekins and Nick Johntone. Global Environment Change Programme.|