What Will Happen If You Conserve Energy?

Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce energy consumption to preserve natural resources and protect the environment. It involves using less energy by making small changes in our daily habits and using energy more efficiently in homes, transportation, and industry (Source). Energy conservation is more crucial today than ever before for several reasons:

First, growing populations and economic development have dramatically increased energy demand over the past decades, putting a strain on nonrenewable energy sources like oil, natural gas, and coal (Source). Conserving energy will extend the lifetime of these limited resources.

Second, burning of fossil fuels for energy releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that contribute to climate change. Reducing energy use decreases these emissions helping mitigate global warming (Source).

Finally, transitioning to clean renewable sources like solar and wind is underway but will take time. Energy conservation buys us time to make this critical transition.

Lower Energy Bills

Using less energy in your home or business directly translates to lower monthly utility bills. Electricity, natural gas, and other energy usage makes up a significant portion of a household or business’s monthly expenses. By taking steps to conserve energy, such as upgrading appliances, adding insulation, replacing old windows, installing energy efficient lighting, and changing energy usage behaviors, it’s possible to drastically cut energy consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Reducing energy use in your home saves you money, increases energy security, reduces pollution, and reduces the cost of home renewable energy systems” (source). They estimate that the average household spends $2,000 per year on energy bills, but using their tips can reduce costs by up to 25%. For businesses, energy is often one of the top operating expenses, so conservation can significantly impact the bottom line. Simple behavioral changes like turning off lights and equipment when not in use, raising AC temperatures, and enabling energy saver modes on computers and monitors can yield major savings. Wise investments in energy efficiency upgrades also usually pay for themselves in just a few years through energy savings. Overall, reducing energy usage through conservation is one of the most impactful and cost-effective ways for homes and businesses to lower their monthly utility bills.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Conserving energy leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Most electricity in the United States is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil. This process releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy efficiency delivers a number of environmental benefits including notably reducing greenhouse gas emissions (https://www.iea.org/reports/multiple-benefits-of-energy-efficiency/emissions-savings). When individuals and families conserve energy through simple actions like turning off lights, using energy efficient appliances, and lowering thermostats, less fossil fuels need to be burned to produce electricity. This directly leads to lower emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that contribute to climate change.

The Department of Energy (DOE) states that reducing energy use through conservation is essential in fighting climate change because traditional power plants burning fossil fuels release greenhouse gases (https://www.energy.gov/eere/energy-efficiency-buildings-and-industry). Simple everyday actions to save energy, when multiplied by millions of households, lead to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. Conserving energy by making buildings more efficient and powering devices efficiently is one of the most impactful ways individuals can reduce their carbon footprint and help mitigate climate change.

Improve Air Quality

Conserving energy, especially by reducing the use of fossil fuels like coal and gas, leads to cleaner air. As the International Energy Agency explains, “Scaling up the use of energy efficient appliances and lighting reduces the demand for electricity generation, and therefore reduces air pollution.”1 When less fossil fuels are burned for energy, less pollution and emissions are released into the atmosphere.

using less energy improves air quality by reducing pollution from power plants

Specifically, energy conservation can reduce key air pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury, and other toxins. This cleaner air has widespread benefits – reducing asthma attacks, hospital visits, sick days, and premature deaths. The EPA notes “climate change mitigation strategies, such as energy conservation…can cut harmful air pollutants.”2 In short, saving energy improves public health through better air quality.

Alleviate Energy Resource Strain

Conserving energy reduces the strain on limited natural resources that are used to produce energy. Fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are non-renewable resources that cannot be replaced once they run out. According to Energy5, energy conservation minimizes the pollution associated with generating energy from these finite resources.

By reducing energy consumption through conservation, we extend the life of fossil fuel reserves and rely less heavily on them. Simple practices like turning off lights and electrical devices when not in use decreases the demand for coal and natural gas needed to power plants. Driving and flying less preserves oil reserves. All of these conservation habits alleviate the drain on constrained energy resources.

Enhance Energy Security

Energy conservation can strengthen energy security by reducing reliance on imported fuels. According to the IEA, energy security means having uninterrupted access to affordable energy sources. When a country depends heavily on imported oil and gas, it is vulnerable to price shocks and supply disruptions that threaten the economy and national security.

By reducing overall energy demand through conservation, a country needs fewer fossil fuel imports to meet its energy needs. This enhances energy independence and resilience. The US Department of Energy notes efficiency improvements enhance energy security by decreasing the strain on limited energy resources.

Steps like weatherizing buildings, upgrading equipment, and shifting to LED lights reduce energy waste. This conserves finite fuels and minimizes reliance on imports. Energy conservation allows for greater control over energy usage rather than depending on external market forces.

Save Money for Society

Conserving energy as a society has significant cost savings. By lowering demand through increased efficiency, less investment is needed in energy infrastructure like power plants, transmission lines, pipelines, etc. According to the International Energy Agency, utilities that promote efficiency can avoid major infrastructure costs. The EPA estimates $1 in energy efficiency investments can save up to $4 in utility costs. Overall, improving commercial and industrial building efficiency by just 10% would save $20 billion annually in the U.S. [1]. Society avoids these costs when energy demand is lowered through conservation.

Spark Innovation

When energy consumption is reduced through conservation, it incentivizes the development of new, more efficient technologies and systems. With less demand on existing energy infrastructure, there is more impetus to innovate and find better ways of doing things.

For example, policies that mandate energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances have driven progress in HVAC systems, lighting, smart thermostats, and more (Source 1). Similarly, renewable energy policies lead to complementary innovations in energy storage, grid management, and other technologies that enable the integration of renewables (Source 2).

Overall, conservation opens up opportunities for entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators to create novel and transformative efficiency improvements across all sectors of the economy. The drive to do more with less energy catalyzes new ideas, technologies, and business models.

Simple Ways to Conserve

There are many easy ways individuals and households can conserve energy in their daily lives. Here are some simple tips to get started:

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs, which use at least 75% less energy and last much longer. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this step alone could save the average household about $75 per year (Source).
  • Wash clothes in cold water instead of hot to cut energy used for water heating by 80%. Use the cold or warm setting on your washer instead of hot (Source).
  • Lower your water heater’s temperature to 120°F, which is usually sufficient for most uses while also saving energy (Source).
  • Unplug electronics like TVs, DVD players, and chargers when not in use to avoid phantom load, which drains energy even when devices are turned off (Source).
  • Use power strips to cut power to multiple devices with the flip of a single switch. Smart power strips take this a step further by sensing when devices are idle (Source).

Implementing even a few of these easy tips can lead to significant energy savings over time. Conserving energy takes minimal effort while providing substantial environmental and financial benefits.


In summary, conserving energy provides many benefits for individuals, society, and the environment. By reducing energy consumption through simple actions like turning off lights, lowering the thermostat, and taking public transportation, people can enjoy lower utility bills and save money over time. At a societal level, decreased energy demand can alleviate strain on nonrenewable energy resources like oil and natural gas. Energy conservation also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, improving air quality and mitigating climate change. Most importantly, judicious use of energy today helps ensure adequate, affordable energy supplies are available for future generations. The many advantages of conserving energy highlight why it remains crucial for all of us to use energy wisely. Just small changes in our daily habits can add up to meaningful energy savings over time, paving the way to a more sustainable future.

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