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Consumption is when you use economic goods (things you can buy or sell) to satisfy your wants. One way to help limit consumption is through conservation. Conservation is when people make a decision to use less, or waste less. Turning out lights when you leave a room is an example of conservation.

One important issue related to energy is the consumption of energy by people. We consume, or use, energy as part of our daily lives. We use energy to create electricity to run our lights. We use energy to heat our homes. We use energy to drive our fruits and vegetables across the country. We use energy to manufacture plastic drink bottles and the refrigerators that cool those drinks. As a nation, we consume a lot of energy.

Dependence on Energy for Our Wants
Our energy consumption has been steadily rising ever since we found fire. Think about your bedroom. How many of your possessions require batteries? How many things need to be plugged into an outlet (hairdryers, game stations, alarm clocks). How many clothes did you grow with wool from your own sheep? Did your bed frame come from a tree that grew in your backyard? Most everything we touch everyday was not made by our own hands. These are things that we don't require for survival — we just want them.

What do you think?
What should we do?
We want nice things and energy provides those to us. As Americans, we consume more than the average world citizen, much more. Are we willing to give any of our wants and desires? Where do we find the energy that continues to give us those wants? Where are other people in the world going to get their energy?

1. Cooley, John K. "Trading with the Enemy: U.S. Refiners Reportedly Buying
Most of Iraq's Oil." ABC News Online. July 20, 2001.




PBS NewsHour Online Links

Is it possible to use less energy and still consume the cold air we crave? See how consumption and efficiency overlap. This PBS NewsHour site looks at the efficiency of air conditioning. Air conditioning is a product that few of us like to live without in the summer.

How does alternative energy play into conservation? This site explores the links.

Web Links
Alternatives to AC
Keeping cool indoors when it is hot outdoors is a problem. Air conditioning can be expensive to install and operate. But, there are alternatives to air conditioning.

Landscape to Lower Energy Consumption
Landscaping may be the best long-term investment for reducing heating and cooling costs.

Energy Star
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency and by lessening consumption.

How Much Energy do your Light Bulbs require?
The typical incandescent light bulb wastes 90 percent of the energy it uses, producing heat rather than light. A breakthrough in lighting technology called the compact fluorescent is a more efficient alternative to the incandescent bulb.