The best way to promote energy efficiency is through adopting a vegetarian diet, eliminating sources of phantom power, reducing wasteful lighting/heating, and winterization. These are the best ways to promote energy efficiency because they are completely free or very inexpensive steps that individuals can take right now to reduce their carbon footprint.
The adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases you are responsible for emitting more than switching from an SUV to a hybrid. This is because the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emission according to a 2006 report, whereas all modes of transportation are accountable for only 13%. This includes all cars, trucks, boats, trains, and airplanes1. By switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet, you cease to participate in this industry, and begin to promote energy conservation. Further, this is a healthy diet change in that it causes no harm to the individual provided the person switching eats a healthy balanced diet. The downsides involved include ones desire to eat such meat products, but even a small reduction in ones meat consumption can be a benefit and a source of energy efficiency. Cost wise, it is no more expensive to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet than it is to eat an omnivorous diet.
Throughout people’s homes there are sources of phantom power. Phantom power, also known as vampire power, stand-by power, or leaking electricity is considered to be electricity used by appliances and equipment while they are switched off or not performing their primary function2. By simply unplugging these devices when they are not needed, we can reduce our usage and promote energy efficiency by 5-10% in a residential setting3. This method of energy efficiency comes at no cost to the consumer, and will even save the consumer money by reducing electricity bills.
By reducing wasteful lighting and heating, we can further reduce our personal bills and become more energy efficient, all at no cost. The simple acts of shutting off outdoor lights at night, shutting a light off when one leaves a room, and making sure to use lights only when necessary can go a long way in promoting energy efficiency as 40% of global electricity is used for lighting4. Further, by turning heat down or off in unused rooms we can accomplish these same goals. We should also turn our heat down to a conservative setting so as to not be wasteful. By reducing our thermostats by one degree, an an average family will save six percent on their energy bills5. This is a substantial amount of money, and a great way to promote energy efficiency.
Lastly, winterizing our home’s windows should be looked at as an affective way to promote energy efficiency. This is a cheap fix that involves sealing our windows, checking our furnaces, wrapping our pipes and various other tasks6 in order to keep heat in the house, and cold outside the home. These steps should be taken every winter to improve energy efficieny.
The best way to promote energy efficiency is to do so cheaply. No costly measure will be adopted quickly, and many of the small changes we make can be very significant. These significant changes become all the most significant and easy to adopt when the public acknowledges that they are free, and might even save us money. Most will readily admit that global warming should be addressed, as most would admit that saving money is of interest. When we can combine these two desires we get double the benefit, and double the likelihood of success.