For many people the word waste conjures images of a garbage barge, a half eaten sandwich in
the trash, or smoke spewing from a factory. Few people consider a light left on all night, a computer
idling, or a car left running so the air conditioner will cool the cabin to be wasteful. In fact, the
aforementioned scenarios represent a great portion of the energy waste in the United States (Klein,
2009). Energy waste is a major concern because of the finite amount of nonrenewable energy sources,
the environmental impacts of energy mismanagement, and the possible ill affects to our health. This
essay will identify the types of energy, factors contributing to poor energy management, the impacts of
improper management, and methods to improve energy conservation specifically related to
transportation applications. In order to identify the best ways to improve energy conservation, a basic
understanding of the types of energy is necessary.
There are two primary types of energy. Energy from nonrenewable sources, resources that
cannot be replenished, account for over 71.5 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.
These resources include fossil fuels, such as oil, gas, and coal. Renewable energy sources are best
defined as sources that are restored on a consistent and constant basis. These resources include water,
wind, sunlight, vegetation and the earth’s heat. Wind is used to generate wind power via turbines.
Hydropower is generated from a water source. Sunlight is used to generate solar power via photovoltaic
cells and other means. Plant matter, or biomass, is used to manufacture fuels such as ethanol and
biodiesel. Geothermal energy comes from deep inside the earth. According to the EPA, only about 9.0
percent of electricity in the U.S. is generated from renewable sources (EPA, 1997). As indicated by the
ratios cited, there are still a vast amount of improvements to be made in the area of energy
conservation. Before a plan may be developed, it is also important to understand some of the factors
that exacerbate the problem.
Poor energy management may be attributed to several primary sources. For two centuries man
has been shifting the workload from manual labor to machine intensive labor. This shift is only
increasing as new technologies are applied to tasks. For this reason one of the major causes of today’s
energy issues is the increasing demand for energy. The demand is so great that energy cannot be
properly generated, allocated, and distributed using the most efficient means. A second contributing
factor to the energy crisis is economic constraints. These restrictions are expressed in the energy
pricing policies and fossil fuel import quotas. A third cause of poor energy management is the stagnation
of technology related to renewable energy source (EPA, 1997). Regardless of the impending shortage
of fossil fuels, companies prefer to leverage the fossil fuel reserves rather than to develop proven
technologies for renewable energy sources. In addition to the causes of poor energy management, it is