Here Are The Places We Most Need To Cut Down On Energy Waste

Save your money and the Earth all at once.

Everyone knows that fossil fuels won't last forever, so it's important to develop more sustainable energy sources.

That said, the fossil fuels we currently depend on could go a lot further if used more responsibly. Being wasteful, particularly with non-renewable energy sources like oil is all too common.

It's Okay To Be Smart host Joe Hanson created the video "The Surprising Places We Waste Energy" and dives into the areas where humans have the most room to make some big changes.

Food waste

We were all taught as children to finish the food on our dinner plates so we wouldn't be wasteful, but there's more waste going on than immediately meets the eye.

The video reports that as much as 40% of the food that is produced in America never gets eaten. Beyond just wasting the food itself or the money spent on groceries, an alarming amount of food never makes it from the field to the supermarket in the first place. This means that all of the water and fertilizer used to grow the plants, along with the fuel used to run the machinery and maintain the field, is ultimately wasted.

This, despite that fact that over 14% of Americans know how it feels to be food insecure. This is a no-brainer: we have to be more efficient when it comes to food.

Wasted heat

What do light bulbs, car engines, and nuclear power plants have in common? They all waste energy in the form of heat. Forces like friction, electrical resistance, and chemical reactions inevitably waste a percentage of the energy they produce.

While there are people working toward making some of these processes more efficient, others are also developing ways to trap the heat and turn it into something useful.


Whether traveling by planes, trains, or automobiles, there is a lot of waste that comes from internal combustion engines. While fuel efficiency has never been greater than it is today, it is really far from perfect.

A whopping 75% of the fuel isn't completely burned in the engine and just lost as exhaust. If we were able to use gas more efficiently or harness some of what is lost as waste, trips to the pump wouldn't be as painful as they are today, and we'd be able to make those finite resources stretch a lot more.


Lack of access to freshwater hasn't typically been a matter of concern for most Americans, until the drought looming over California has thrust it into the spotlight. Unfortunately, there's not a clear way to handle this matter as it pertains to energy consumption.

While it is energetically costly to transport drinkable water, it's much more wasteful to convert salt water into something potable. Additionally, water is necessary for a number of other methods of harnessing energy, so we ultimately have to use water to make electricity to gain water.

Learn more about our wasteful practices here: