Green Business Bureau Blog


Electricity Usage: Domestic vs. Commercial


Ever thought about life without electricity? Without lights, fans, air conditioning, hot water, microwaves, electric shavers, music systems, televisions, wii, computers, blenders, food processors, epilators, copiers and heaven knows what else we cannot live without anymore? Equally scary is the prospect of businesses and factories coming to a standstill because there is no power. Electricity is not a luxury; it is a staple of civilized life. Where we get it from is another matter.

However, classifying electricity as a staple does not give us the freedom to waste and squander it mindlessly. As scientists work harder to identify cleaner and greener sources of electrical power, it becomes binding on every thinking human being to spend that precious power judiciously, whether it is at work or at home. Green thinking, like charity, begins at home. For every unit of electricity I consume, fuel is burnt to produce this energy. This is my personal carbon footprint simply put as yet another nail in mother earth’s sad coffin.

On this somber note then, let us analyze where we use electricity and how it is best used. In the residential sector, electricity is used for the following:

• Air conditioning
• Electric heating
• Water heating
• Electric clothes dryers
• Dish washers
• Refrigerators
• Lighting

Here we will ignore the myriad small appliances that use less power but make life comfortable.

About 20 percent of electricity in the US is used for cooling. Therefore small changes in our air conditioning-use pattern should have large effects. Some tips would be to use programmable air conditioning units which can be set differently for different days of the week. For example if there is no one home on weekdays, you can set the thermostat so that the air conditioning comes on for minimum time. Use fans more. If there are rooms in your house that are less frequented, periodically shut off the ac vents in those rooms. None of these actions calls for a high level of time commitment.

Dryers are power guzzlers. Using clotheslines may work for a few dedicated green householders. I have neither time nor energy. So let us move on. Use your dishwasher when you have a full load. This is kind to the environment from energy, water and detergent points of view.
For those of you dedicated to converting your homes into ecologically sustainable green havens, here are some suggestions: solar panels, solar ovens, composting, tubular skylights and compact fluorescent light bulbs.
In the commercial sector, electricity is used under much the same heading as at home, the scale being much larger. Thus, a bulk of the electricity is used for cooling, heating and running of machinery. It goes without saying that the same principles can turn potential carbon big foots into green businesses if only there is the will to act responsibly. EnergyStar helps businesses calculate energy efficiency of equipment and savings from using the same.
Every business has the potential to metamorphose into a green business and every home can be green. All that is required is the will, because the means exist.


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