Friday, October 3, 2014

Principle: avoid using energy where possible

This post is part of a series on the principles of energy reduction.

Energy* that is not used is the best saving. Whether the energy is renewable or not, whether it is efficiently-used or not, if you can avoid using it then you have just taken the most effective action to reduce your impact on the natural systems that support us. Thus, working out what energy doesn't need to be used at all is very important.

Heating and cooling

Space heating and cooling of dwellings uses a lot of energy. Think carefully about whether you need to perform this action, and if so how much. If you must, then minimise how much energy you use by maintaining the smallest temperature difference between inside and outside your dwelling (the greater the difference in temperature, the more energy is used). In practice, this means allowing your house to stay cool in winter and hot in summer. You can wear more clothes in winter, and fans in summer.


Cars use an extraordinary amount of energy. Any reduction in driving has a huge effect on your energy consumption. Many journeys are less than a few kilometers -- consider walking or cycling for these shorter trips.


Boil only the amount of water you need, since any surplus is wasted.


Of course, everything that we buy requires energy for manufacture, packaging, distribution, marketing, etc. Thus, part of reducing energy use is a reduction in consumption. The energy used in the creation of stuff is called embodied energy.

* clearly, using the sun's heat for heating still means using energy. Here, I refer to human generated energy (eg. electricity, petrol, etc)

This post was written by Angus Wallace, and first appeared on

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