Energy Use and Conservation in the U.S. - Accent Energy
The United States produces and consumes a lot of energy- more than any other country in the world. Its supply enables American society to carry out the many functions inspired by the industrial revolution- allowing factories to manufacture products that will pave roads, build houses, clothe people, gas our cars, keep stores open, and ensuring that people are comfortable in their homes. It takes a tremendous volume of energy to sustain American life. In recent years, however, environmental scientists have started influencing American thought. Along with other highly-industrialized societies, the way in which we use energy cannot go on forever. National security and possibly human health are at issue.
Currently, most of the US's source of energy comes from petroleum, coal, and natural gas. A mere 15% is supplied by nuclear power, hydroelectricity, and other renewable and eco-friendly energy sources such as wind and solar power. The leader in energy consumption is the industrial sector- factories that produce raw materials such as aluminum, petrochemicals, and steel are especially energy-intensive. However, transportation, residential, and commercial sectors are not far behind.
As the US population continues to grow, the demand for electricity is going up. Coal and natural gas are the main sources of electricity for residential consumption, growing in a large part due to space heating and lighting. Americans also use 20,680,000 barrels of petroleum per day to fill up their cars, and although that amount is expected to fall in the short-term due to current economic conditions, it may not be long before the economy bounces back and consumption increases again.
With public opinion moving positively towards more environmentally-cautious energy practices and many public officials promoting the use of renewable energy sources, further development of power plants that reduce carbon emissions and are powered by a renewable source seem to be in our future. Until then, Americans can actually do more in their private lives to help lower energy consumption, with the first step being that they learn how to measure the amount of energy they are using within their homes on a day-to-day basis.
The simplest way of doing this is by home electric meters, usually located on the side of a house. The meter reads the electricity being emitted in a given moment. In addition, home watt-hour meters can be purchased for only $150 and involve a quick installation by an electrician, which provide the service of calculating total kWh usage. There are even small devices that enable a conscientious consumer to find out the wattage of a single appliance, such as a window air-conditioning unit. By plugging the appliance into the device, which then plugs into the wall, he/she can find out how many watts are being used at a given moment as well as total kWh usage; all for less than $40.
Once Americans are able to see the effects of their energy-use habits, they may be compelled to reduce the amount of unnecessary electric power use through a range of proactive steps from adopting a wider indoor temperature range to installing better insulation. They can also lower petroleum use by practicing less aggressive driving techniques, driving at lower speeds, utilizing cruise-control, and, most effectively, carpooling.
Energy-use adjustments can also be easily made in the commercial and industrial sectors. For instance, the lighting in retail stores, schools, offices, and other workplaces tend to be a very wasteful component of commercial use. More efficient lighting as well as the elimination of over-illumination can greatly reduce the waste of electricity in these settings. In the industrial sector, the recycling of waste material and the use of cogeneration equipment for electricity and heating can significantly cut energy use, as it has shown to do in the recent past.
Environmental-caution is increasingly becoming a more welcomed attitude in modern American society. This is reason enough for many Americans to jump on board to the cause. In addition, aside from social ramifications, the idea of energy conservation can also potentially lead to increased financial capital, improved national and personal security, continued human comfort, and of course, environmental value.