When we talk about energy efficiency most people think about electricity. But the full energy picture also includes fossil fuels to heat our homes and business, get from place to place, and also to create electricity. All energy sources have multiple environmental impacts including air pollutant emissions, wastewater discharges, waste generation and land use impacts (from raw material extraction, processing, production, transmission, distribution and use). Our main objective should be to minimize these negative impacts from energy generation and a key strategy is energy efficiency. Visit Green America for a starter list of ways that you can save energy in your own home: https://www.greenamerica.org/first-steps-efficiency
Let’s look at two of the impacts of energy generation: emissions of nitrogen oxides (which can cause smog) and release of carbon dioxide (the most common greenhouse gases).
ELECTRICITY – The good news is that New Jersey’s current electricity profile is relatively clean. New Jersey generates 3 times more electricity from solar panels than from coal combustion. Natural gas is 60% of the New Jersey generation and nuclear is 34%.
The use of one kWh of electricity in New Jersey on average results in the release of: 0.0001 pounds of nitrogen oxides (NOx) & 0.54 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2)
NATURAL GAS – Natural gas is commonly used in our homes for heating and cooking. It may also be used to warm our water and dry our clothes.
The use of one therm of natural gas in residential use would release on average: 0.009 pounds of NOx & 20 pounds of CO2
GASOLINE – Gas powered automobile engines are have been required to meet stricter NOx standards over time to address smog problems, but the emissions still add up.
The use of one gallon of gasoline in an average car would release: 0.004 pounds of NOx in a 2004 model year or older car OR 0.002 pounds of NOx in a new car & 19.6 pounds of CO2
These are small quantities but if each household saved through EE measures one kWh, one therm and one gallon of gasoline a week, New Jersey would see about a 1,200 ton per year reduction in NOx emissions and 3.3 million metric tons per year reduction in CO2 emissions. The good thing about EE emissions reductions are that the savings are cumulative over time.