About energy efficiency: doing more with less

Background - 1 July, 2016
Greater energy efficiency is key to a clean, safe and secure energy future for all. We must make better use of energy from the sun, wind, water and earth to make the leap to a 100 percent renewable energy future. Efficiency is all about smart use of energy, not doing without. It saves us money, helps the environment, and improves our health and comfort. Today's push for greater energy efficiency is driving exciting innovation, as we totally re-think how to get things done using less energy.

We must be much more ambitious about energy efficiency to make the leap to a 100 percent renewable energy. Greenpeace’s philosophy on energy efficiency is all about intelligent use, to squeeze more out of every bit of energy.

Energy efficiency for our 100% renewable future

Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution analysis shows we can get to 100 percent renewable energy with help from a mix of current energy efficiency best practices and products.  We can expect future technologies, including products already in development, to also play a role.

To save enough energy to get there, we need to make roughly equal efficiency energy gains in industry, transport, and our homes and workplaces. In industry, for example, energy efficiency can reduce electricity use by 23 percent and fuel use by nearly 60 percent compared to business as usual.

Important energy savings options will come from:

  • improving heat insulation and building design

  • using super-efficient electrical machines and drives

  • replacing old-style electrical heating systems with renewable heat production

  • reducing energy used by vehicles to move goods and people.

Improving lives while saving energy and money

Very simple steps can dramatically improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses and industry. We can update or replace systems or appliances, install motion sensors for lighting, and change our behaviour (for example, walking instead of driving).

These steps save energy and money, but also improve our quality of life while helping the environment. A well-insulated home uses about 50 percent less energy to heat and cool, but feels warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and is healthier to live in.  More efficient dishwashers cut energy bills, reduce emissions, but also use less water.

Big steps translate into big savings

Gradual, step-wise efficiency improvements like those highlighted above are important. But the biggest, most exciting efficiency gains come from re-thinking a whole concept: the "whole house", the "whole car" or even the "whole transport system". These revolutionary changes can dramatically cut our energy needs — by four to ten times.

Take the passive house concept. This total rethink of house design and function creates homes that need very little electricity and heating.  In a similar way, efficiency of electric vehicles goes far beyond using lighter materials or engine refinements to reduce energy use. As total automobile redesigns, electric vehicles use an astonishing one-fifth the energy of their fossil fuelled counterparts, while also reducing local air and noise pollution.

The development of smart electricity grids and energy-smart cities is driving still more revolutionary ways to boost energy efficiency and make the best use of renewable energy.

What is Greenpeace doing?

Around the world, Greenpeace is campaigning for the urgent leap to 100 percent clean, safe, renewable energy sources, and showing why energy efficiency is essential to this shift.

What can you do?

Find out which energy efficiency solutions fit your lifestyle so you can save money, cut emissions, and make you life and home more comfortable and healthy.

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