Overconsumption has become a pervasive issue in our society. Even if our products are increasingly using less energy, we consume more of them, perpetuating a vicious cycle of growing energy demand. Yet, in order to meet our climate targets, we need to consume differently and become more energy sufficient.
Energy sufficiency, the lesser-known cousin of energy efficiency, reduces the need for energy through changes in behaviour, lifestyle and collective organisation. Whereas energy efficiency depends on technologies to reduce energy consumption, sufficiency requires a level of consciousness on behalf of consumers and the choice they make on a daily basis.
The concept is far from new. Most of us likely perform energy sufficient measures in some form or another, whether for environmental, economic or multiple other reasons. For instance, hanging clothes outside to reduce energy bills or taking the bike to avoid traffic are habits that are both conscious and reduce the need to produce energy.
Energy sufficient measures have many positive impacts on our environment, climate, economy, and well-being, but are often overlooked by policymakers. However, we need policies and infrastructures to intrinsically support behavioural change without compromising citizens’ quality of life.
Ultimately, the goal is to reach a system where everyone has enough energy to cover their need and live comfortably, but not using too much to point of exceeding the limit of our environment.