How to Manage Nonrenewable Energy Resources

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abandoned oil well at dusk image by Calin Tatu from

Nonrenewable energy sources are becoming more scarce. More than 85 percent of the energy used in the United States comes from a nonrenewable natural resource, or NNR, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. These resources include oil, coal, natural gas and uranium. NNRs cannot be replenished in a short time, unlike renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and biofuels. Effective management of nonrenewable resources means conserving and reducing carbon footprints.


Reject "gas guzzling." Consider the days of driving to the corner drugstore gone. Planning car trips to accomplish more with each outing, regular car maintenance, and driving at a constant speed save gasoline and reduce oil dependence. Another option is to drive a more fuel-efficient car. Also, walking, biking and carpooling help manage limited, nonrenewable oil resources.

Weatherize. Heating oil is a popular way to heat homes in regions that experience severe winters. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed legislation to encourage homeowners to put up storm windows, insulate their homes and caulk cracks around doors and windows. This can reduce heating costs by as much as 30 percent, according to Alliant Energy.

Pack prudently. More than 1 million gallons of jet fuel can be saved each year for every 100 pounds of eliminated extra weight, American Airlines estimates. This averages 7 gallons of fuel saved every day for each 1-lb. reduction in unnecessary luggage.

Natural Gas

Reduce heating needs. Almost one-quarter of Americans' natural gas use is to heat their homes. To better manage this energy resource, keep the thermostat at 70 degrees and shut off the heat when it is not needed. Wearing a light sweater and using a throw blanket when sitting on the sofa can reduce heat usage.

Increase stove-top efficiency. Make sure pots and pans are the same sizes as the burners used. Cooking a meal in a small pan on a large burner wastes energy.

Optimize water heater efficiency. Insulating the water heater in addition to reducing the temperature to 120 degrees saves natural gas and reduces water heating bills, Consumers Energy says.

Coal and Uranium

Lighten the lighting. Coal supplies about half of the electrical energy Americans use, according to the American Coal Foundation. Changing from incandescent bulbs to low-energy lighting sources such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, cold cathode fluorescent light bulbs and light-emitting diodes helps conserve coal and other nonrenewable energy resources.

Diminish electricity drain. Turning off lights when exiting a room and turning off appliances and entertainment centers, especially televisions, when they are not in use are smart energy management strategies.

Stay aware. Nuclear energy is considered energy-efficient, but the byproducts of uranium oxide are radioactive and must be enclosed in concrete or steel-lined containers or pools. Efforts are under way to recover and recycle some of the byproduct energy and to find a suitable answer to the need for long-term containment of nuclear waste.


  • Take small steps each day to change behavior and integrate energy resource management into your lifestyle.

    An energy assessment can help you identify where you can save or optimize energy.