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Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Are the Same

Energy efficiency isn't the same as energy conservation.

Robert George Young/Photographer's Choice RR/Getty Images

­­Each one of us consumes energy as part of our everyday lives. We heat and cool our homes, commute to work or school and flip on lamps or televisions through­out the day. Conserving energy and choosing energy-efficient products are both key to energy sustainability. They may sound similar but, in fact, they're two different things.

Energy conservationis any activity where the outcome is the consumption of less energy, such as choosing to turn off the lights when you leave a room. Energy efficiency is any technology that requires less energy to carry out the same task. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) provide the same illumination as standard incandescent bulbs but use just one-quarter of the energy and last 8 to 12 times longer [source: International Herald Tribune]. They're an example of energy efficiency.

­The result of choosing energy-efficient products may be energy conservation -- but not always. Think about it like your favorite cookie: just because they started making a low-fat variety doesn't mean you should consume the whole box.

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