What’s the Difference Between Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency?

Energy Conservation vs. Energy Efficiency

If you’re on the path toward living a more sustainable life, you’re likely familiar with the phrases “energy conservation” and “energy efficiency.” You might even be using them interchangeably.

But while conservation and efficiency are related – and equally important – they aren’t quite the same thing.

Energy conservation is the practice of using less energy. It’s typically achieved by adapting your habits at home, like turning off lights when you leave a room or using fewer electronic devices altogether. Energy efficiency, however, involves using innovative technology that requires less energy to do the same thing. (Think LED light bulbs and smart thermostats.) For a quick overview of the difference, check out this explainer video.

If you’re going green at home, it’s beneficial to create conservation and efficiency habits.

What is energy conservation?

Energy conservation is simply the prevention of energy waste. One of the great things about energy conservation is that it’s easy. Look around you: There’s likely a change you can make right now that will help you cut down on energy waste.

Even when you have energy efficiency upgrades in place, avoiding energy waste is the right thing to do – both for the power grid and for your budget. The less energy you use, the less you’ll spend.

Here are a few ways you can conserve energy:

  1. Keep your home slightly warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.
  2. Unplug small devices (like your laptop or computer monitor) when they aren’t in use.
  3. Unplug larger devices (like your television) when you’re leaving town for more than a few days.
  4. Run your dishwasher only when you have a full load.
  5. Set your refrigerator to 37 degrees F.

What is energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency is simply using less energy to perform the same task, whether it’s heating your home or running your dishwasher.

Unlike energy conservation, efficiency doesn’t require you to change your consumption behaviors – though it often requires homeowners to make an up-front investment.

Efficiency upgrades may not be as simple as conservation, but they're likely to save you much more money in the long-term.

Here are a few examples of energy efficiency upgrades:

  1. Switch out your bulbs for LED lightbulbs, which require less energy to provide the same amount of light.
  2. Invest in an energy-efficient dishwasher, which will use less water than an older appliances or handwashing.
  3. Install an energy-efficient furnace to heat your home while using less energy.
  4. Use a smart switch to schedule your lights to turn on and off at ideal times.
  5. Swap out your old thermostat with a smart one and keep your home programmed always to the right temperature.

Looking for more ways to conserve energy – or increase your efficiency – at home? Check out this article, which offers 10 easy-to-implement ideas.

5 simple swaps you can make today