Energy Conservation Meaning, Method, Comparison, Importance

Energy conservation is the act of preventing energy wastage, so as to ensure that it is continually available.

This article defines conservation of energy in an elaborate manner, based on the following subsections;

-Meaning of Energy Conservation

-Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency: Differentiation of Concepts

-An Overview of Ways to Achieve Energy Conservation in Various Sectors

-Energy Conservation and the Environment




Meaning of Energy Conservation

The concept and practice of conservation of energy aligns with the aim of achieving sustainability; both in the environment and the economy. This means that energy conservation is one of the measures which must be taken in order to achieve sustainable development.

In other words, conservation of energy refers to the act of reducing the rate of consumption of energy. There are two basic ways by which energy is conserved.

One of these is by reducing the amount of energy which is used, and the other is by reducing the amount of energy which is produced. The two approaches can be used simultaneously and sometimes interchangeably, although it is generally more effective to reduce the amount of energy used.

Conservation of energy is such an important topic in the world today, for a number of reasons. These reasons include the fact that energy production and usage both place a potentially significant strain on the environment. Issues of pollution (which often are associated with energy generation) can be devastating to the ecosystem, including the human populace.

Climate-related health problems have proven the severity of environmental degradation. Aside some of the renewable energy technologies like solar, hydro and wind, the entire process of handling energy contributes to environmental problems like climate change and global warming.

Ultimately, the goal of conserving energy is to accomplish a state of stability within a closed energy system, whereby the average total amount of energy in the system remains constant. This perspective is well represented by physical laws such as the Law of Conservation of Mass [1]. Since mass can be interchanged with energy in an ecosystem (as shown by the energy pyramid) the mass and energy conservation concepts may also be (occasionally) interchanged.

Although the overarching goal of conservation of energy is to reduce and prevent energy wastage, the efforts to achieve this goal involve implementing a diverse set of measures.

Some examples of conservation of energy include the use of energy-efficient appliances that consume less energy, the minimization of the number and individual load of appliances used, and the use of more efficient, green and renewable energy-generation technologies.

The expected outcomes of these measures include environmental preservation, natural resource conservation, economic growth, low energy cost, and overall sustainable development.


Conservation of Energy and Energy Efficiency: Differentiation of Concepts

Energy conservation is often used interchangeably with energy efficiency.

The following table outlines the difference between both concepts;

Comparison Criteria Energy Conservation Energy Efficiency
Meaning The reduction, minimization and/or prevention of energy wastage The phenomenon of increase of energy output per unit

It is an attribute that ensures that more work is done using less energy [2]

Purpose To address environmental degradation, energy-related economic decline, and to ultimately achieve sustainable development To save energy by enabling more work to be done with less energy, to reduce the costs and resource-depletion associated with energy at all levels
Measures *Using less energy

*Producing less energy

*Using energy-efficient appliances

*Using Clean as well as Renewable energy technologies

*Developing and using energy efficient appliances and technologies
Link to the Environment and Sustainable Development Directly linked to environmental preservation/management, and sustainable development Is a minor aspect of sustainable development, does not share any strong link with environmental concerns
Example Switching off 6 incandescent light bulbs (60 Watts each) to save 360 Watts of energy Changing the 6 incandescent light bulbs to Light-Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs (45 Watts each).

This saves 90 Watts (less than 360 Watts) of electricity/ energy, but allows the lighting to be used at the same time, rather than switching off entirely


What can be observed from the above table, is that conservation of energy is a much-broader concept than energy efficiency. As part of the overarching concept of sustainable development, energy efficiency can be said to lie within the confines of conservation, since the latter involves the development and use of energy-efficient technologies.

In the most simplistic comparison, conservation of energy requires a continuously conscious effort on the part of the individual(s) producing and/or using the energy, whereas energy efficiency does not require any such continuous effort.

The only effort required to achieve an improved state of energy efficiency, is the technological effort of developing more-efficient energy appliances and generators. This implies that energy efficiency may not always be measurable, while conservation is always measurable.


An Overview of Ways to Conserve Energy in Various Sectors

Collectively, energy is conserved by a set of measures known as the Energy Conservation Measures. These measures are applied in various sectors, as discussed below;

1). Building Sector

In spite of the economic-decline effect of the Corona Virus, as of the end of 2020, the construction sector in the United States was valued at about 1.36 trillion USD [3].

The construction and management of buildings constitutes a significant part of the global economy, and this is highly influenced by the fact that energy is required to achieve these functions.

As implied by the foregoing sentence, conservation of energy in the building sector should commence from the point of construction.

At the construction level, conservation of energy can be achieved by using efficient technologies. These technologies will minimize energy losses while ensuring that building materials are also used effectively.

The design of buildings can also affect the effectiveness of conservation. Climatic (energy-efficient) design can be used to optimize the conservation of energy in buildings, such that solar energy (in the form of heat) is stored during the winter and released in summer. Buildings are also designed to minimize energy loss for heating and cooling applications, by incorporating geothermal energy systems.

energy conservation, solar space heating, heat energy
A Building Optimized to Use Solar Heating, as a means of Energy Conservation


In existing buildings, energy conservation can be achieved through effective building management.

With regards to energy conservation in existing buildings, the concept of smart buildings is fairly common.

Smart buildings are buildings which are equipped with technologies that enable them to be self-sufficient in some ways. The concept is however used within the context of conservation of energy because many smart buildings are also energy efficient (recall that energy efficiency is an aspect of conservation of energy). Modern, energy efficient appliances are often used in smart buildings, which are generally designed to achieve more with less energy.

Conservation of energy in buildings may be guided by carrying out an energy audit. This involves analyzing the energy consumption (actual or expected) of the building, and identifying ways to reduce energy consumption without negatively impacting productivity (that is; the amount of necessary work that is done). Obviously, one of the ways to do this is by using energy efficient appliances.

2). Commercial/Industrial Sector

The manner in which energy is used in both the commercial and industrial sectors is very similar. This is because both sectors are involved in the extraction, and utilization of resources (raw materials) to manufacture products.

 Utilizing renewable energy is a helpful approach in this area, although most renewable technologies are still limited in their versatility and efficiency.

Again, the use of energy efficient technologies is one of the most usable and helpful measures for conservation of energy in commerce and industry. This ranges from the machinery used in extraction and processing of raw materials, to that which is used in the actual manufacturing process.

A significant aspect of the conservation of energy in other sectors must also commence from the industrial sector. The manufacture of energy efficient products is an example of how the industrial sector impacts conservation of energy in other sectors.

It is important for consumers to be aware of the importance of energy conservation. This awareness can be created by the commercial sector through the promotion of energy-efficient products.

3). Transport Sector

Given the prominent position occupied by the transport sector with regards to environmental degradation, climate change, global warning and sustainable development, it is no surprise the need for energy conservation in this sector is enormous.

With the advent of modern energy technologies for automobiles; such as the introduction of electric batteries in electric vehicles, a broader range of opportunities for conservation can be said to have presented itself.

The main concerns in the transport sector revolve around developing alternatives in terms of energy source and vehicle technology. With regards to energy source, fossil fuels remain the dominant option, as most renewable energy technologies are still under-developed to meet the need. Vehicular technological improvements include the development of more efficient engines, mostly with the aim to reduce greenhouse emissions, while conserving energy.

Like the construction sector, the concept of ‘smart transport’ encapsulates technologies and approaches to make transport more manageable, cost-effective, and energy-efficient. It involves the development of modern vehicular technologies, as well as research and development to introduce more reliable, clean and effective sources of energy for automobiles.

energy conservation, smart transport
Smart Transport as a Development to Achieve Energy Conservation


Energy Conservation and the Environment

Climate stability is often cited as one of the potential benefits of conservation of energy, on a large scale, and over a long-term period.

Considering that the burning of fossil fuels (which are a prominent source of energy), it is difficult to dispute the strong ties between conservation of energy and the prospect of achieving environmental sustainability.

To begin with the obvious; by conserving energy, the rate and magnitude of emission of sulfuric oxide, lead, soot, nitrogen oxide and methane will be potentially reduced.

At the same time, the non-renewable natural resource which serve as raw materials for producing energy, such as fossil fuels, natural gas and radioactive elements like Uranium, will be conserved. This will reduce the strain on the environment, as well as mitigate the rate of environmental pollution and potential hazards associated with the extraction, refinement and usage of these resources.

Environmental degradation is known to be associated with some health problems for the human populace. These include respiratory diseases that result from inhaling fossil fuel-related emissions, digestive problems from ingesting polluted water, and hazardous mutation from exposure to nuclear waste. By conserving energy, the risk of these ailments will reduce as the rate of exposure to energy resources and their by-products is reduced.

Lastly, by reducing the rate of global warming and the threat of climate change, conservation of energy potentially reduces the prospect of natural hazards like hurricanes, flooding and drought.



Energy conservation refers to the concept and practice of controlling the rate of consumption of energy.

It may also be defined as the act of reducing energy loss and/or wastage.

Within a system ruled by the principles of physics; the idea of energy conservation can be considered similar to that of mass conservation, whereby energy will remain fairly constant within the system.

Although the concept of energy efficiency is often used in an interchangeable manner with energy conservation, both concepts are different. This is because energy conservation revolves around a conscious and consistent effort to minimize energy production and usage, whereas energy efficiency simply involves the development and use of technologies that allow me work to be done with less energy.

The importance of conserving energy can be exemplified in different sectors of the society. In the construction sector, both building construction and management can be improved through energy conservation, using measures such as careful selection and use of building materials, designs and internal appliances.

‘Smart transport’ represents part of efforts to achieve energy conservation in the transport sector. The two main approaches include optimization of energy source, and optimization of vehicular technology. Electric vehicles represent a product of such efforts to improve the usage of energy in the transport sector.

In commerce and industry, conservation is an elaborate practice which extends from the methods and technologies used to extract raw materials, to the nature of the products being manufactured. The industrial and commercial sectors both support other sectors in terms of producing and advocating energy-efficient products that can help to conserve energy.

The importance of conservation of energy to the environment cannot be over-emphasized. By conserving energy, the pressure on the environment to provide natural resources is lessened. This also results in a decrease of the rate of greenhouse emissions, environmental pollution, and associated health problems.



1). Helmenstine, A. M. (2019). “Law of Conservation of Mass.” Available at: (Accessed 6 February 2022).

2). Shinn, L. (2018). “Energy Efficiency: The Clean Facts.” Available at: (Accessed 6 February 2022).

3). Statista (2022). “Value of overall construction put in place U.S. 2005-2019, with forecasts to 2024.” Available at: (Accessed 6 February 2022).

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