Mark Hopkins and Ted Jones, Getting In Gear The Alliance To Save Energy
January 1995

Page 6

Energy conservation vs. energy efficiency

Energy conservation traditionally refers to efforts to lower energy costs by decreasing use or eliminating waste—such as lowering thermostat settings or turning off lights when they’re not in use. In other words, getting less benefit by using less. Energy efficiency, on the other hand, refers to making capital investments in more efficient end-use products—such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, high-efficiency motors and drives, or more efficient heating systems. In other words, getting the same benefit, but using less.

Both approaches are useful in the home, office or plant. But conservation has its limits; after all, a thermostat can be turned down only so far. On the other hand, the potential for energy efficiency improvements is virtually limitless as new, more advanced technologies are developed. Compact fluorescent lights, for example, produce the same amount of light as a traditional incandescent bulb, but they use one-quarter of the energy. Research now under way should lead to even more advanced lighting products. Through advances in reflective fixtures, better controls, and daylighting, techniques that now reduce energy use by a factor of four will soon reduce energy use by a factor of 10.