When I ask people what they think are the two cheapest, cleanest, safest, most environmentally friendly, and most reliable energy technologies available today, the answer I receive is almost always wind and solar. But the correct answers; conservation and efficiency; have nothing to do with generating electricity. And the first step to utilizing these technologies is to commit, individually and collectively, to making a coherent and lasting reduction in our consumption of energy.
The term ‘energy conservation’ implies using less or cutting back on use; in other words, avoiding excessive use or waste. Its basic principle has to do with applying simple behavioral changes to our lives; turning down thermostats for example, especially when we’re not at home or while we’re sleeping; turning off and/or unplugging appliances when they’re not in use; or driving your car a few less miles every week. These simple practices can conserve substantial amounts of energy and save considerable amounts of money. However, in all of these examples, the amount of energy used is reduced by either cutting down on your comfort level or doing without or with less.
Unlike conservation, efficiency is science- or technology-based and implies achieving equivalent or superior results while using less energy or using energy more effectively. Insulating a building, for example, or even just plugging up the leaks that allow cold air to slip into your house, will allow you to achieve and maintain comparable or even greater comfort, while using less heating energy.
Read the full article in the Plattsburgh Press Republican.