Business Ethics and the Reduction of Energy Consumption

  1. Background of the Issue

Reduction of energy consumption involves both energy conservation and efficient use of energy. Energy conservation involves using less of energy service while efficient use of energy involves using less energy for a constant amount of energy service. These two ways of reducing energy consumption are important ways of achieving sustainable energy in order to avoid negative effects on the environment, human wellbeing, biodiversity and sustainable economic development (Guerra, 2010). Reduction of energy is also important in increasing quality of the environment, financial security, national security and personal security. It also leads to increased personal savings and overall investment in the economy as saved funds become available for borrowing. Conservation of energy is also an essential way of utilizing resources efficiently to create a sustainable economic development.

Economies that are highly dependent on energy use have the ethical responsibility to reduce energy consumption through conservation and efficient use of energy. This responsibility should be borne by nations and individuals with the most impact affecting the individual. Because reduction of energy consumption has been considered to affect personal and national security and economy, it should be taken seriously. It is ethical to improve the quality of human life by reducing the consumption of energy. Reducing energy consumption also reduces the negative effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Reduction of gas emissions should not be based on national goals but on equity; hence bringing the idea of ethics in energy use. Energy efficiency and conservation deserve to be given ethical consideration because they determine the energy saving potential of each country and the world economy in general (Association of Energy Engineers, 2004). Furthermore, the use of energy across the world is inevitable – it is used in manufacturing, at home, in offices and business operations. Therefore, energy is an important resource which should be used efficiently to achieve the highest levels of production and produce the best quality of goods and services; hence promoting a sustainable economy.

  1. Importance of the Issue/Impact on the Society

There are various ways of reducing energy consumption in order to create an ethical impact on the society. At home, insulation can be used to reduce heating and cooling energy. The use of fluorescent lights or natural skylights at home also reduces energy consumption while achieving the same level of illumination as the traditional incandescent light bulbs (Scheer, 2007). This ethical responsibility of reducing energy at home through efficient energy use leads to reduction of energy costs. As a result, an individual or family will be able to save financial resources which could be used on higher energy costs. Home appliances using energy such as freezers, ovens, dishwater and stoves reduce energy use more efficiently than traditional appliances. Modern energy-saving refrigerators should also be used at home to save energy. Saving electricity as a form of energy through these appliances not only leads to reduces financial expenses at home but also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released to the environment.

Reduction of energy consumption in industries is also an ethical responsibility for governments and companies. In order to manufacture products and extract resources, energy is required. This usually involves a mass consumption of energy in form of mechanical power and heat. Most of this forms of energy come in form of petroleum fuels, electricity and natural gas (Association of Energy Engineers, 2004). Waste products may also be used in industries as alternatives to other forms of energy (Strauss et al, 2013). One of the ways of reducing energy consumption in industries is to recycle some renewable sources of energy. For example, steam and electricity can be generated and subsequently used at home as alternative sources of energy. Using more efficient sources of energy such as advanced boilers produces higher temperatures and burns less fuel. This is environmentally friendly because it leads to emission of minimal sources of energy.

Vehicle fuel efficiency can also be used to reduce energy consumption. This may be done through the use of improved aerodynamics (Scheer, 2007). As part of ethical responsibility, green vehicles have been developed which use less energy and emit less greenhouse gases; hence conserving the environment. Reduction of vehicle weight is also an essential way of improving fuel economy. Vehicle owners may save a lot of fuel costs when they use energy-reducing methods. Business owners can also use energy saving mechanisms to achieve cost leadership by reducing their costs of production significantly. They also use energy efficiency to produce quality goods and services which make them superior over their competitors. This increases competitiveness in the economy and increases overall productivity and quality of products and services in the economy.

  1. Ethical Dilemma

The main ethical issue that exists in terms of reducing energy consumption is to balance between the short term costs incurred, especially by the disadvantaged and the poor against the long term benefits to be achieved through sustainable society that can be achieved by reducing energy consumption. In order to reduce energy consumption, industries and individuals are required to use more energy-saving machines and renewable sources of energy. The industrialized countries are already using heavy non-renewable energy sources to support their highly industrialized economies and lifestyles (Kimms, 2001). In developing countries, development is still low and they still need to industrialize. The international standards and restrictions set for energy use will therefore affect their intentions to build their economies and improve their peoples’ living standards. In this case, it becomes an ethical dilemma to strike a balance between economic development through industrialization in developing countries and the ethical responsibility to reduce energy consumption in order to promote a sustainable society.

In order to prevent huge consumption of energy which could lead to gaseous emissions, developing countries need to use renewable energy and reduce the consumption of energy generally (Kimms, 2001). However, this may not be affordable in developing countries, hence they resort to cheap sources of energy which usually consume more energy and may cause environmental and sustainability problems in future. In this case, the developed world should take responsibility to help rural sectors of developing countries in order to avoid further problems of overconsumption of energy and unsustainable society in the world

Another dilemma is how to produce and distribute products especially food to everyone while at the same time reducing energy consumption. Food is an essential commodity in the life of a human being. Without it there can never be human life. However, production of healthy food in this highly populated and industrialized world requires a lot of energy. Nations need to reduce energy consumption while at the same time increasing the amount of food available to sustain the economy (Kimms, 2001). The problem is that there are places where food is so abundant that most of it goes to waste. Inefficient use of resources also leads to wasting of food. Food produced using energy and wasted leads to wasting of a lot of energy. Efforts need to be taken to ensure that energy is saved through reduction of energy consumption in order to avoid food wastes. The goal of reducing costs through reduction of energy consumption also conflicts with the need for more food and products. In order to produce more products and services, more energy and energy costs should be incurred.

  1. Recommendations

In order to resolve the ethical dilemmas associated with reduction of energy consumption, there should be a lot of assistance from the developed countries or the rich economies to the developing or poor economies. The rich people should also take the responsibility to help the poor within economies. This is an ethical responsibility because if the poor are not assisted and they resort to cheap and energy consuming sources, the impact will affect both the rich and the poor (Dernbach and Brown, 2009). Furthermore, the rich used heavy energy consuming sources during industrialization to become developed, so they have the responsibility to help the poor countries. This assistance should be in form of providing renewable energy sources and more advanced energy saving machines and technologies.

Individually at homes, people should also learn to use energy saving appliances and mechanisms in order to reduce energy consumption and save more financial resources. People should produce only enough food for their families and not to waste because producing more food means more energy is used and the food that will go to waste will indicate the amount of energy that has been wasted. Lights should also be switched off when they are not used, e.g. during daytime when there is free sunlight. This reduces costs of energy, and the resources saved can be used in other productive ways.

  1. Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear that reducing energy consumption through energy efficiency and conservation of energy is one of the best ways to enhance cost-saving and improve the wellbeing of people. However, dilemma exists between short term costs to be incurred when reducing energy consumption against the long term benefits of a sustainable society. Ethical dilemma also exists in terms of how enough food and other products can be produced sufficiently using limited resources while at the same time reducing energy consumption. Rich individuals and countries have the responsibility to help the poor to reduce energy consumption in order to reduce gaseous emissions through heavy consumption of energy and to enable them minimize their costs of production. The ethical dilemma of reducing energy consumption can also be solved by reducing food wastes and using energy-saving methods and appliances at home.

 

References list

Association of Energy Engineers. (2004). International journal of green energy. New York,          N.Y: Marcel Dekker.

Dernbach, J.C. and Brown, D.A. (2009). The Ethical Responsibility to Reduce Energy      Consumption. Hofstra Law Review, 37, 985-1006.

Guerra, S.O. (2010). Actual energy consumption in dwellings: The effect of energy performance     regulations and occupant behaviour. Amsterdam: Ios Press.

Hordeski, M. F. (2004). Dictionary of energy efficiency technologies. Lilburn, GA: Fairmont          Press.

Kimms, J.P. (2001). The Ethics of Energy: A Framework for Action. UNESCO.

Scheer, H. (2007). Energy autonomy: the economic, social and technological case for renewable   energy. London: Earthscan.

Stilwell, K., Tait, H., Gluck, D.H., Hoard, D.C., PhotoSynthesis Productions & Schlessinger        Media. (2006). All about the conservation of energy. Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger           Media.

Strauss, S., Rupp, S., & Love, T.F. (2013). Cultures of energy: Power, practices, technologies.      Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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