Everyone Uses Energy
All of us use energy every day for transportation, cooking, heating and cooling rooms, manufacturing, lighting, and entertainment. The choices we make about how we use energy such as turning machines off when we're not using them or choosing to buy energy efficient appliances impact our environment and our lives.
Efficiency and Conservation Are Different but Related
The terms energy conservation and energy efficiency have two distinct definitions. There are many things we can do to use less energy (conservation) and use it more wisely (efficiency).
Energy conservation is any behavior that results in the use of less energy. Turning the lights off when you leave the room and recycling aluminum cans are both ways of conserving energy.
Energy efficiency is the use of technology that requires less energy to perform the same function. A compact fluorescent light bulb that uses less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light is an example of energy efficiency. However, the decision to replace an incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent is an act of energy conservation.
Recycling Saves Energy in Production of New Products
It almost always takes less energy to make a product from recycled materials than it does to make it from new materials. Using recycled aluminum scrap to make new aluminum cans, for example, uses 95% less energy than making aluminum cans from bauxite ore, the raw material used to make aluminum.
In the case of paper, recycling saves trees and water. Making a ton of paper from recycled paper saves up to 17 trees and uses 50% less water.