In my article on the clean alternatives to coal I was mentioning that the first thing to implement before any other was behavioral changes and energy efficiency.
Indeed, I believe we need both as they are complementary and very different. Indeed one has a sociological approach when the other refers to pure economics.
Energy efficiency is well known and is becoming more and more talked about, but behavioral changes aren’t. This article will explain what could be their tenets.The IEA issued two warnings in less than two months for an increased energy conservation in the world. (cf. IEA urges governments for energy efficiency and IEA urges again to act strongly on energy efficiency).
In France, the Grenelle de l’Environnement launched policies that will lead hopefully to important increases of energy conservation.
But behavioral changes are not talked about. However, I consider that they are vital as they would enable our civilizations to do important cuts in our energy consumption and thus of our greenhouse gases emissions.
But this would require a real shift from ” always more and more ” which is quite the basis of our civilizations ; to ” drastically less “.
Some already think we entered the era of scarcity and that the party is over. The rising prices of oil and several raw materials including cereals could be an important signal for that.
Nicolas Hulot and his foundation advocate decreasing our energy consumption willingly now, or to suffer privations of energy later. Similar view were expressed by Jean-Marc Jancovici and Alain Legrand in their book Le plein s’il vous plaît! [Fr]. I think that sums up quite well the situation at hand.
To make it perfectly clear, I will exemplify here the differences between the two via three different possibilities taken from our everyday lives.
1. Housing :
Energy conservation : you insulate your house in a very efficient way in order to have a global energy consumption of 50-70 kilo watt per hour per square meter per year. (French current average : 210)
This kind of works indeed cost money but it will enable you to save huge sums of money over the 30 years of life of the insulating material and will increase your comfort.
Behavioral change : Instead of heating your place to 22-24 °C, heat to 18-20 °C. Wear a sweater or an additional tee shirt. Add a blanket on your bed at nights.
2. Lightning and appliances
Energy conservation : change all your traditional 100 and 60 W light bulbs by energy efficient ones that consume only 17 to 23 W.
Similar actions can be done with all electrical appliances as new appliances consume much less energy than old ones. By choosing A+ appliances you can
Behavioral change : turn systematically lights when living a place. Don’t let your computer running when you don’t need it etc…
Energy conservation : when changing your car, buy a small energy efficient one. When the car is really needed, don’t rev up your car.
( I am always astonished by how people accelerate then brake dozens of metres afterwards. An important waste of energy to win less than ten seconds… )
Behavioral change : do you really need it every time you got to move ? Couldn’t some distances be covered by alternative transportation means like biking or by train ?
Carpooling can also be in some cases an interesting alternatives and enables you to meet different people.
Many other examples could be found in our daily lives at the office, at home, while travelling.
3 thoughts on “Difference between behavioral change and efficiency”
In my opinion, the everyday life behavioural change will definitely come from children. They often give a “green lesson” to their parent when they have been sensibilized to environment issues.
As a consequence, many of the actions that are triggered are aiming at children. But this communication policy as its perverse effect : as you explain to a child what are the main issues, you don’t give his parents the keys to save energy in their eveyday life : isolation, lighting, car sharing are many simple solutions that are not pushed enough or well enough known form people.
For example, car sharing is a really nice idea. But it needs infrastructures, taxing bonuses and so on to be applied at a large scale.
From this point of view, France is still far from the green target.
Punting the behavioural change to children is a weak and irresponsible choice. When I was a child, I heard that the onus of change was on my generation’s shoulders. Now that I’m an adult and see other adults of my generation using the same excuse and exacerbating the problems, I’m pissed!
Take responsibility for your own life first.
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