Why Should We Save Energy? A Closer look
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard that it’s important that we save energy. But for many people, this statement seems a little bit general, and doesn’t really convey any real importance. It’s pretty easy to understand why. As we go through the daily actions of our lives, it can be pretty easy to take things for granted. For example, when we want water, we just turn on a faucet and water will “magically” appear. The same goes for a lot of things that we need, especially electricity. It’s even easier to take electricity for granted than water as it is invisible and doesn’t make a sound. While you can hear a leaky faucet dripping to remind you that there is waste occurring, electricity doesn’t work in quite the same way.
OK, but that still doesn’t answer the question of why we should save energy. Aside from the obvious cost increase involved in wasting it, what is the big deal? What is the importance of saving energy?
To answer that question, we’ll need to look at where energy, and more specifically, electricity comes from.
Where We Get Our Energy: The Dirty Truth
Nearly all of the world’s electricity comes from converting mechanical motion into electricity through the use of generators, turbines and the like. Mechanical energy starts off as heat. Much like in a steam powered train, heat is applied to water which evaporates into steam. This steam is used to turn turbines and generators and voilà! You’ve got electricity. Electricity can also be generated without the need for mechanical motion as in the case of solar panels. Here, sunlight is directly converted into an electrical charge. But for the most part, the vast majority of the world uses the former system for electrical generation.
So where does the heat come from required for the whole process? Well, this depends on which power plant you’re looking at. Many plants use nuclear reactors to generate the intense heat needed. Others (the majority) burn something. A few use wood, but the vast majority use coal. And that is where the problem lies.
The Effects: It’s Getting Hotter In Here
You see, when coal is burned, it releases a lot of byproducts, mostly in the form of gas. One of the chemicals released is carbon dioxide. This stuff gets into the atmosphere and slowly but surely starts to change its chemical makeup. This alters how it affects the sunlight hitting the Earth. Add more CO2, and it will trap more of the sun’s energy and heat on the surface of the planet. If this is starting to sound familiar, it’s because you’ve probably heard about the “greenhouse effect” before. It’s aptly named because that’s exactly what happens. The CO2 rich atmosphere traps the sun’s energy thus causing the planet to become hotter than normal. While this may not be all too noticeable, it builds up over the years.
Now a few degrees in temperature may not seem like a big deal, but when you throw that into a complexly balanced system that is this planet, you get all sorts of situations arising. Hotter climate means more ice located in the poles will melt. That in turn means a higher sea level which can wipe certain land areas right off of the map. The hotter climate also means that more water will evaporate thus further promoting a stronger greenhouse effect (this situation is called a positive feedback loop as it perpetuates itself further and further into the condition).
So this all goes back to the way in which we generate electricity. Herein lies the reason why saving energy is so important. If you live in an area where your electricity is generated through the burning of coal, oil or some other fossil fuel, then lowering your personal electrical usage will help to reduce the amount of coal being burned. This reduces harmful emissions thus slowing the progress of global climate change.
The Solution: We Should Go Green
As time goes on, more and more recognition will be given to the climate change situation, and as a society, we’ll start relying more and more on clean forms of energy generation, like solar and wind power. But until such a time when governments are doing something about it, we should go green personally by saving electricity at home.
Now that you know the importance of conserving energy, you’ll need to know a few ways to save electricity. There are a lot of different tips and tricks, as well as products and devices which all can help to lower one’s home usage. The benefits of doing so aren’t only that you’ll be helping to reduce climate change thus helping the environment, but you’ll also be saving money in the process.
So what would be a realistic goal in terms of home energy saving? With current methods and technology, it should be possible for most people to achieve about a 20% decrease in electrical usage in their homes.
This would be done through applying several different techniques all working together.
To recap, here’s the main points:
- Electricity is mostly generated (at this time) using methods that are harmful to the environment because of the pollutants they generate.
- This is why we should save electricity as reduced demand will help in lowering the output of harmful pollutants.
- One can easily save energy at home by using various methods which will not only help the environment, but also save money as well.