Energy conservation refers to reducing energy through using less of an energy service. Energy conservation differs from efficient energy use, which refers to using less energy for a constant service. For example, driving less is an example of energy conservation. Driving the same amount with a higher mileage vehicle is an example of energy efficiency. Energy conservation and efficiency are both energy reduction techniques. Even though energy conservation reduces energy services, it can result in increased financial capital, environmental quality, national security, and personal financial security. It is at the top of the sustainable energy hierarchy.Some countries employ energy or carbon taxes to motivate energy users to reduce their consumption. As detailed in the book, Green Illusions, carbon taxes can allow consumption to shift to nuclear power and other alternatives that carry a different set of environmental side effects and limitations. Meanwhile, taxes on all energy consumption stand to reduce energy use across the board, while reducing a broader array of environmental consequences arising from energy production. The State of California employs a tiered energy tax whereby every consumer receives a baseline energy allowance that carries a low tax. As usage increases above that baseline, the tax increases dramatically. Such programs aim to protect poorer households while creating a larger tax burden for high energy consumers.One of the primary ways to improve energy conservation in buildings is to use an energy audit. An energy audit is an inspection and analysis of energy use and flows for energy conservation in a building, process or system to reduce the amount of energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output(s). This is normally accomplished by trained professionals and can be part of some of the national programs discussed above. In addition, recent development of smartphone apps enable homeowners to complete relativily sophisticated energy audits themselves. Building technologies and smart meters can allow energy users, business and residential, to see graphically the impact their energy use can have in their workplace or homes. Advanced real-time energy metering is able to help people save energy by their actions.
Elements of passive solar design, shown in a direct gain application In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design or climatic design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it doesn't involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices. The key to designing a passive solar building is to best take advantage of the local climate. Elements to be considered include window placement and glazing type, thermal insulation, thermal mass, and shading. Passive solar design techniques can be applied most easily to new buildings, but existing buildings can be retrofitted.In the United States, suburban infrastructure evolved during an age of relatively easy access to fossil fuels, which has led to transportation-dependent systems of living. Zoning reforms that allow greater urban density as well as designs for walking and bicycling can greatly reduce energy consumed for transportation. The use of telecommuting by major corporations is a significant opportunity to conserve energy, as many Americans now work in service jobs that enable them to work from home instead of commuting to work each day.Consumers are often poorly informed of the savings of energy efficient products. The research one must put into conserving energy often is too time consuming and costly when there are cheaper products and technology available using today's fossil fuels. Some governments and NGOs are attempting to reduce this complexity with ecolabels that make differences in energy efficiency easy to research while...
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