Hesperian Health Guides

Making the Best Use of Electricity

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 23: Clean Energy > Making the Best Use of Electricity

Aside from using clean energy, an important way to reduce pollution from electricity is to use it more carefully. If we waste less electricity, our power plants will not have to produce so much — or produce so much pollution. There are many ways governments can promote better energy use, including regulating industry to use cleaner production methods, and improving existing power plants and power lines.

Reduce waste, reduce demand

EHB Ch23 Page 532-1.png
Compact fluorescent light bulbs last much longer than regular (incandescent) light bulbs, saving electricity and money.

Reducing the demand for more electricity by people and industries that use too much is the best way to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Governments can reduce the demand for energy by encouraging factories, businesses, and people who live in cities to use energy more efficiently. When less energy is used, it reduces both the cost of making energy and the harm to peoples’ health and the environment.

Governments can charge more or ask for higher taxes from industries that use the most electricity. Governments can also encourage electricity use at different times of the day, so that it is not in demand all at one time.

The corporations that make electricity are like other businesses. The more they make and sell, the more they profit. Because our health and environment is harmed by too much production of electricity from fossil fuels, the energy corporations must be forced to conserve, not expand.

Improve existing power plants and power lines

A worker on a ladder fixes a power line.
Repairing power lines
saves a lot of electricity.

Power lines carry electricity from power plants to wherever the electricity is used. The way electricity moves through a power line can be compared to how water moves through a pipe. Just as a leaky pipe wastes water, a poorly maintained power line wastes electricity. Poor quality power lines waste a lot of electricity.

Existing power plants can also be improved to produce more, cleaner, and safer electricity. Improving power plants costs less and causes less harm to people and the environment than building new ones.