Understanding What You Use Energy for



This is a guest post by John Pooley, Energy Management & Sustainability Consultant on how to save energy.

It was initially meant as a short contribution to my group interview on the easiest way to save energy but due to its depth I decided to use it as standalone post as well! I added some text formatting, emphasis, subheadings and an image.



The easiest way to save energy?

The easiest way to save energy is to start by understanding what you use energy for,

  • how much you use,
  • when you use it
  • combined with how much you spend.

Domestically, if you do not have a smart meter consider having an energy monitor.

Identify your major energy uses and start with them.

You may have some idea from the plug load of the item – e.g. a kettle at 3kW a microwave at 700W, a TV at 65W. But

power demand alone is not enough, you need to know how long it is on for.

For example, your fridge has a lower plug load than a kettle, but is switched on 24 x 7 so it can be using energy at any time.



The Zen of using an electric kettle

Combined with understanding where the energy is going is the need to ask questions:

  • Do I need to use energy for that? And then,
  • If I do, is there a better way of doing it?

Boiling a kettle is a good example, physics tells us that if we need to boil water then there is a certain amount of energy we need, so it does not really matter how powerful the kettle is. What matters is how much water we put in the kettle and when we boil it. So to save energy with an existing kettle,

  • only fill with as much as you need
  • and boil it just as you need it
  • don’t fill it right up boil it and then walk away, come back and re-boil it.

When you come to replace the kettle look for one that can boil as little as a cup at a time. That is why jug kettles are energy saving in that they can boil as little water as a single cup.



Automate the light control!

Lighting is also a good example. The biggest saving is by not having a light on at all! However, there are times when we do need light.

So having identified that we need lighting, we then look at the best way of providing it AND controlling it.

LEDs provide a great opportunity to save energy and are now, for most applications, the light source of choice.

Given that lamps fail in service, this can be a good opportunity to re-lamp with LEDs. The light switch is a simple and effective control – if used! For some applications automatic control may be justified.

Whilst I have used domestic examples, this thinking can be scaled up for commercial or industrial thinking.

So, the easiest (and best) way to save energy is to understand what you use and then challenge that use.






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