Understanding Energy, and Energy Savings

What is Energy?

In Physics, the simple answer to this question is that “energy” is the ability or capacity to perform work. But in Physics, “energy” is also defined as a property of an object which can be transferred to other objects or converted into different forms. It is not possible to give a general description of energy because of its different forms.

We live in a world having energy everywhere. Energy is inside as well as outside the body. Air, water, soil, fire, and sun are considered sources of energy. Sources of energy which are extensively used are called conventional, and sources which are not used extensively are called non-conventional.

Conventional sources fulfil a major part of the demand for energy (non-renewable sources) and non-conventional sources are alternate sources of energy (renewable energy sources). Biomass, natural gas, and fossil fuels are conventional sources whereas solar energy, hydro energy, tidal power, nuclear power, wave energy and geothermal energy are some of the non-conventional sources of energy.

A more modern classification of energy sources is the use of the term’s renewable and non-renewable. Renewable energy sources are defined as those that are replenished or replaced (on a human timescale) as the energy source is consumed. Examples are solar, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Non-renewable energy sources are those that are not replaced when the source is used; examples are fossil fuels (oil and natural gas), coal, and biomass.


Where is Energy used?

All our activities in civilization use energy. In the household, it is used for cooking, cooling, heating, lights, etc, and this consumption costs money.

In the industry, energy is used for refining, petrochemical manufacture, and commercial manufacturing i.e., food and beverage, etc. Energy is also used in transportation (a major consumer of energy) and in construction.


What is the cost of Energy?

Sometimes energy is measured in terms of power. Practically, energy and power are different, but power consumes energy. Power is the rate at which work is done or the rate at which energy is transferred. Power is increased if work is done faster, or if energy is transferred in less time.

So, if the power of an electric heater is 1 kilowatt and it works for an hour, it consumes one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy. Electrical power is charged by the electricity company in Units, where one Unit equals one kilowatt-hour.

If we look at our electricity bill, we will see:

  1. The current meter reading
  2. The previous meter reading
  3. The difference is the number of units used
  4. The cost rate for the units, which changes for different categories or amounts. E.g., the industrial rate is different from the domestic rate. The cost is also fixed for up to a certain amount over which the cost changes.


Why save Energy?

You have probably heard the hype about going green and saving energy. The green movement seems to have taken over the world, empowering eco-friendly people every day. If you’re not hip to the green energy industry yet, read on to discover why you should save energy.

There are a number of reasons why you should consider cutting back on energy consumption. First of all, reducing energy use limits the number of carbon emissions in the environment. Carbon emissions play a significant role in climate change, which is thought to be the cause of powerful natural disasters in recent years. With billions of harmful emissions in the atmosphere, cutting back is always a good thing.

In turn, conserving energy produces a higher quality of life. Reduced emissions result in cleaner air quality. In addition, it helps to create a healthier planet or at least helps sustain the resources we already have. Being conservative with energy can ensure that lakes, trees, and animals are around for future generations.

Environment aside, why save on energy? The answer is simple: You can save money! Cutting back on the amount of energy you use can reduce your energy bill significantly. With a combination of simple energy changes, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars on your energy bills this year. There is always room for energy improvements for everyone, no matter who.


How can we reduce Energy costs at home?
  • Wash clothes in cold water; a quick and easy way to cut the cost of energy used when washing your clothes.
  • Adjust your A/C thermostat to a higher temperature. This reduces the uptime of the compressor, so it uses less electricity.
  • Air dry your clothes rather than using an electric dryer. While this is obvious, especially for us living in the tropics, the convenience of using an electric dryer, especially afterhours prompts more usage. However, we need to remind ourselves that air drying saves money and saves the planet so maximize its use and minimize the use of electric drying.
  • Turn off electronics that aren’t in use. You’ve probably heard this one a few times, but that doesn’t make it less true or helpful. Your television, computer, and stereo can be enormous energy consumers when not in use. That little light that stays lit means that these items are still consuming power. By using a shared power strip, it’s easy to turn your television, DVR, and other equipment off with one button. Other equipment may need to remain on for software updates, like your smart TV, but you can still enable power saving mode when they’re not being used. Go into the settings and change the default to the shortest time before sleep mode takes over to reap the biggest cost savings with these items.
  • Install ceiling fans. Although you can’t use ceiling fans in place of air conditioning in every home or geographical region, you can still take advantage of their ability to boost the reach of your main heating or cooling unit. Ceiling fans are great at circulating both heat and cold, depending on what’s needed at the time. There’s a switch on the motor that will allow your fan to spin either clockwise or counterclockwise. When you need to circulate cold air, run the fan on high in a counterclockwise direction; when you need heat, run it clockwise on low to pull warm air away from the ceiling. Just remember, fans cool the person, not the room. Fans cool by evaporating tiny beads of sweat on your skin. Turn fans off when you leave the room.
  • Change your A/C air filters more often. You see a lot of advice about saving money on electricity that centres on the heating and air conditioning system in your home because it’s one of the biggest electricity draws. The harder that system works, the more power it needs, so you should do everything you can to keep it running smoothly. Leaving vents open to maximize airflow (it won’t save money to close them anyway, contrary to popular belief) and cleaning or changing filters regularly, make the most noticeable impact on your HVAC system’s efficiency. The cleaner the filter, the greater the air intake and the better your system will work.
  • Buy Energy Star appliances. When you see an Energy Star tag on an appliance, it’s not just a gimmick to make you think you’ll save money on electricity, you actually will. Energy Star rated appliances use 10 to 50 percent less electricity than non-Energy Star appliances, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Since appliances account for about 20 percent of an average household’s electricity usage, choosing equipment that saves power can really add up to a massive effort to conserve electricity without you having to do anything else. Energy Star washing machines and dishwashers are also designed to help save water, giving you even bigger benefits over the long term.
  • Make your home smarter. Smart homes are gaining in popularity and rightfully so. Many of the smart devices designed for homeowners are really good at helping to conserve electricity. For example, smart thermostats can automatically adjust themselves when you’re not home and have tools to help you track your overall electricity usage. Smart light bulbs can be set to dim when you’re not home or turn off entirely until you’re nearing the end of your evening commute. Utilizing tools like personalized profiles help even more, and you can even remotely turn lights on and off when they’re not in use.
  • Switch to LEDs to conserve electricity. LED light bulbs are dropping in price dramatically and this is good for your pocketbook in more ways than one. The average 60-watt equivalent LED only uses nine watts of electricity, whereas your average CFL (compact fluorescent light) of the same equivalency uses 13 watts. That might not seem like a lot, but that’s a full 30% reduction in electricity usage per LED bulb. When you consider the number of light bulbs in your house, that’s a cost-saving that cannot be ignored. LEDs also outlast CFLs on average, making them an even better value.
  • Plant strategically. Since we live in the northern hemisphere and our higher temperatures are in the Dry Season, adding shade trees on the western side of the home provides some natural cooling. Placing them on the west side of your home can block a lot of the hottest sun of the day and makes it easier for your air conditioner to keep up. Shading your outdoor air conditioning condenser is also a smart way to save money. The cooler it is, the less it has to work to cool your home’s air supply. But, make sure that you keep any vegetation at least 3 feet from the outside air conditioning unit. Leaves, grass clippings, and weeds don’t belong in your outside unit and will impede the flow of air.
  • Conduct an energy audit. You may think that you’re already doing so much to conserve electricity that there’s nothing left to do, but you’re wrong. There’s always something that can be improved since no home is 100 percent efficient. An energy audit is a great way to have a professional look your home over and find even more ways that you can save money on electricity. By utilizing thermal cameras and other specialized equipment, they can determine where your home is leaking air or lacks sufficient insulation and give suggestions for improvement. Energy audits are a very affordable way to save money on electricity and many local utilities provide this service for little or no cost.


What are Trinidad and Tobago’s commitments under the Paris Accord?

The Paris Accord is an agreement between approximately 175 countries on national actions to reduce carbon emissions. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is taking the steps required to ensure it does its part to tackle this problem in our economy driven by oil and gas, chemicals, and manufacturing. T& T has committed to reducing cumulative greenhouse gas emissions in the main emitting sectors of Industry, Power Generation, and Transportation by 15 percent from a ‘business as a usual baseline’ by December 31, 2030.

Implementing as many of the energy cost-cutting ideas listed in this paper will assist T&T in achieving its National Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Accord.



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