More than one-third of the energy consumed in the United States is used to generate electricity, reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nearly another 20 percent of all the domestic energy used comes from gasoline. The daily activities of individual citizens account for more than half of the energy used in this country. In turn, burning gasoline and fossil fuels leads to air pollution that contributes to global warming. Persuading people to save energy is important but difficult because many people find it hard to change their routines in ways that conserve power.
Point Out Money Savings
Saving energy almost always leads to saving money because the less energy people use, the less they have to pay the utility companies. Most changes that will save energy and money are small and relatively simple. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) will save over $4 per bulb per year. Insulating water heater tanks with precut blankets will save up to $45 every year. People are not always willing to make these changes, however, due to time constraints or lack of interest, so be specific when explaining how to implement energy-saving techniques that save money.
Highlight Energy Security
Fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas and oil, are used to generate most of the energy Americans use. Other nations, often with unstable governments, control these natural resources. The United States, meanwhile, has only 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves. The 12 member countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) control 81 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Because the United States consumes one-quarter of the world’s oil, it is reliant on other countries to meet its energy needs. Saving energy reduces this dependence on other countries for a consistent energy supply.
Discuss Public Health
The effects of air pollution cause 800,000 deaths worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organization. Children are especially prone to respiratory diseases caused by air pollution. Coal-fired power plants and vehicle emissions release air pollutants such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide and lead. Saving energy reduces the amount of dangerous pollutants in the air. These pollutants linger in the air for varying lengths of time, and those that do not dissipate quickly are often carried a great distance by wind, thereby affecting the health of large populations of people.
Use Peer Pressure
Actions are often more persuasive than words. Convince others to save energy as you take steps to save energy yourself. Small changes can be contagious. Start turning off unused lights in the office and encourage others to do the same. Ride a bike to work or persuade others to join a carpool by pointing out that it will save emissions and gas money. Psychology professor Robert Cialdini has studied what influences people for decades. He conducted a study which found that simply suggesting to people that their neighbors were saving energy encouraged them to make the same changes they perceived their neighbors to be making.
- Scientific American.com: Finding the “Weapons” of Persuasion to Save Energy
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Energy and You
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Air Quality and Public Health
- U.S. Energy Information Administration: Gasoline Explained
- U.S. Department of Energy: Choosing Energy-Saving Lighting Products Saves You Money
- U.S. Department of Energy: Savings Project: Insulate Your Water Heater Tank
- U.S. Energy Security Council: The Issue
- Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries: OPEC Share of World Crude Oil Reserves 2011
About the Author
Sarah Cairoli began her writing career in 2002, as a reporter for the "High Country Independent Press" in Belgrade, Mont. She then spent two years writing and editing for an online publishing company, and earned her master's degree in English from Northern Arizona University. Cairoli also writes for "Bozeman Magazine."