Energy and Electricity Basics
We use energy in our homes, businesses, industries and transportation. Major sources of energy consumption are:
- Industrial, 31%, includes facilities and equipment used for manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and construction.
- Transportation, 28%, includes vehicles that transport people or goods, such as: cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, trains, subways, aircrafts, boats, and barges.
- Residential, 22%, consists of homes and apartments.
- Commercial, 19%, includes buildings such as offices, malls, stores, schools, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, churches, and more.
Energy can be categorized as either renewable or non-renewable.
- About 7% of energy used is renewable (energy that can be easily replenished) which includes: solar energy, wind, geothermal, biomass from plants, and hydropower from turbines at a dam.
- About 93% of energy used is non-renewable (energy that is not replenished quickly) sources. Non-renewable energy includes: petroleum oil, natural gas, coal and uranium (nuclear).
Energy and the Environment
Different energy sources have different effects on our environment, such as emissions, waste, and the impacts of land and water use.
Electricity is one of the most widely used forms of energy in the United States, and we get it from the conversion of other sources, like coal, nuclear or solar energy. The process of converting fossil fuels to energy results in many harmful outcomes. The combustion of fossil fuels produces emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and particulate matter (PM). Nearly all of these have negative impacts on the environment and our health:
- CO2 is a greenhouse gas and source of global warming.
- SO2 causes acid rain, respiratory illnesses, and heart diseases.
- NOX damages lungs.
- PM causes hazy conditions and contributes to asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Energy conservation is any behavior that results in the use of less energy. Since most of the energy we use comes form non-renewable fossil fuels, conservation reduces demand and lessens negative environmental impact. In addition to preserving resources, energy conservation saves money and improves the quality of our environment. Here are some simple steps you can take:
- Unplug electronic appliances when not in use.
- Set computers and other electronic devices to energy-saving settings.
- Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
- Use less water when showering, washing the dishes and doing laundry.
- Limit the use of elevators by using the stairs when possible.
- Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs for your most-used lights.
- Walk, bike, carpool or use public transportation when possible.
- Recycle every chance you get. For more information about the recycling program on Geneva’s campus, click here.
Improve Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency
By making simple changes in your daily routine, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, while saving hundreds of dollars in fuel costs.
- Avoid idling — in cold weather warm the car engine no more than 30 seconds.
- Remove excess weight and avoid keeping unnecessary items in your car.
- Combine errands and activities into one trip when possible.
- Avoid aggressive driving and drive steadily at posted speed limits.
- Use cruise control — it reduces fuel consumption by maintaining a constant speed.
- Avoid rapid accelerations and braking, which burn more fuel.
- Use your air conditioner sparingly.
- Keep your tires properly inflated
- If possible, choose a more efficient vehicle.