From articles to infographics to social media posts - there's no shortage of information on conserving energy. It's easy to become overwhelmed.

As the cooler months approach in New Brunswick, it's important to remind ourselves how to be mindful of energy use. This article discusses what energy conservation is, how it differs from energy efficiency, and goes over some practical ways to conserve energy in your home.

Use the "bottom-up" strategy

Conserving energy doesn't mean many changes in rapid succession - it's making small and sustainable changes to your everyday life that translate into a lower carbon footprint and potential energy savings.

Begin at the bottom and work your way up

Imagine your energy conservation plan as a pyramid, with minor changes at the bottom, mid-size changes in the middle, and bigger changes at the top. The bigger the change, the closer the pyramid draws to its peak.

However, this doesn't mean that small changes are any less important. Indeed, they're the foundation of your pyramid and dictate how well you execute those mid-size and big changes.

What is energy conservation?

Energy conservation is the prevention of wasteful energy use and is at the bottom of our figurative pyramid. The first step in conserving energy is making small changes. It’s being mindful of when and how we consume energy and taking steps to reduce unnecessary energy use.

Energy conservation activities can be small and as simple as turning off light switches when leaving a room, small tasks that become habitual. Not every change requires a technology upgrade.  Consider this step more practical than revolutionary.

Check out what influences how much energy we conserve:

  • Our waste production
  • Our daily behaviours
  • How we use energy at home

The best way to conserve energy is not to use it.

Energy conservation activities

So, what are some ways to conserve energy? Remember, this is the first step, so the aim is to conserve energy by becoming more mindful about our energy use.

Let's look:

  • Turn lights off when not in use.
  • Shut down or unplug computers, laptops and entertainment systems when you are finished with them.
  • Adjust thermostats in unoccupied rooms or when you leave your house for the day.
  • Try to use electricity outside of peak times (6-9 am and 4-8 pm). Make use of the features on appliances like a dishwasher with a delayed start.
  • Use your clothing line or drying rack instead of your clothes dryer.
  • Install a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats learn from your usage and provide energy consumption analytics.
  • Take shorter showers to reduce water heating.

What is energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency goes above and beyond energy conservation.

It involves making changes such as upgrading aging appliances, installing more efficient heating systems, switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and water fixtures. The intent of these upgrades is to use less energy to complete the same task, without sacrificing comfort. 

Energy efficient products and services

An energy-efficient mindset occurs when we think of ways to go above and beyond just energy conservation and consider using less energy to do the same things. 

Here are ways to increase your home's energy efficiency:

  • Upgrade outdated appliances to ENERGY STAR® certified models. For example, an ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher uses about 12 percent less energy than non-ENERGY STAR models.
  • Install an efficient showerhead to reduce the amount of hot water you use during your shower.
  • Consider a mini split heat pump if you are currently relying on electric baseboards to heat your home.
  • Make sure your home is well insulated and check out the Total Home Energy Savings Program to find out how you can get incentives to help you with upgrading insulation and the heating systems in your home.

Renewable energy

At the top of our pyramid we have renewable energy resources. Renewable energy sources can help supply power to your home, once we’ve already taken steps to reduce the energy it takes to run our homes by conserving  energy and becoming more energy efficient.

The most common and accessible form of residential renewable energy source in New Brunswick is solar panels (also called solar modules). Solar panels are large, black panels that harness energy from the sun. If you want to explore installing a solar energy system, make sure you consult with a qualified installer. Not all homes are suitable for such systems depending on where they are located and how they are built.

NB Power customers who install solar energy systems or other renewable energy systems can enroll in our Net Metering program. This program allows customers to generate their own electricity to offset their consumption, while remaining connected to NB Power's distribution system – so they can meet their electricity demands when their generation unit cannot.

Before you start any work, visit the Total Home Energy Savings Program for information on possible incentives related to the cost of installing the system.  You can find information about the Net Metering Program here.

Final Thoughts

When we take steps to adjust our approach to energy consumption, we are working to improve our carbon footprint - and may even see these efforts reflected on our energy bills.

Energy conservation and energy efficiency are critical. Installing a solar panel won't be as effective if we aren't aware of how to be mindful about our energy usage.

For more information about energy-efficient upgrades and rebates, check out the NB Power Total Home Energy Savings Program.

FAQ

What are 5 ways to save energy?

  • Take shorter showers and reduce baths
  • Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms
  • Line dry clothing instead of using the clothes dryer
  • Unplug electronics and appliances
  • Reduce the temperature in unoccupied spaces

What are energy conservation techniques?

  • Consider your daily activities. For example, instead of driving, consider walking or biking.
  • Be mindful of waste and have a separate recycling container.
  • Be aware of how you use energy in the home. Does your furnace or heat pump need maintenance or cleaning? Could you shower at night instead of in the morning?

What are the four steps involved in the management and conservation of energy?

Analyze: Identify areas of the home (such as the bathroom) where you can improve energy conservation.

Prioritize: Organize areas of opportunity by importance.

Act: Take steps to conserve energy!

Sustain: Be sure the steps you take are gradual and sustainable. Start slow!