Environment Magazine has an detailed article about how the average household can conserve energy and thus reduce carbon emissions. An integral part of the discussion is about increasing efficiency (investing in equipment that lowers energy costs without sacrificing desired services) vs. curtailment (cutting back on normal and desired activities).
For example, replacing all your bulbs with CFL bulbs vs. turning of all the lights whenever you leave the room. Or buying a more energy-efficient furnace vs. lowering the thermostat. Which do you think saves more energy?
A comparison of energy saved by curtailment and by increased efficiency in Table 2 reveals that efficiency-improving actions generally save more energy—and reduce carbon emissions more—than curtailing use of intrinsically inefficient equipment. For example, buying and maintaining a highly fuel-efficient vehicle saves more energy than carpooling to work with another person, lowering top highway speeds, consolidating shopping or errand trips, and altering driving habits in an existing gasoline-inefficient motor vehicle. This general finding challenges the belief that energy savings entail curtailment and sacrifice of amenities. Not only is efficiency generally more effective than curtailment, but it has the important psychological advantage of requiring only one or a few actions. Curtailment actions must be repeated continuously over time to achieve their optimal effect, whereas efficiency-boosting actions, taken infrequently or only once, have lasting effects with little need for continuing attention and effort.
Also, here’s their “Short List” of the most effective actions you can take to save energy usage, based on initial upfront cost and potential energy savings.
Via TechCrunch via ELYM.