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Energy Efficiency & Recycling

Find out what the oil and natural gas industry is doing through initiatives discussed below, and what you can do to conserve natural resources including energy and water.

What You Can Do

Here are some suggestions about how you can use energy wisely in your vehicle and in your home.

Fuel Saving Tips for Drivers

We count on our cars to get us where we want to go, when we want to go. That sense of freedom is important to us, but we also want to be sure we do our best to conserve natural resources for future generations.

Following are a few simple steps you can take to meet these goals.
  • Have your car tuned regularly. An engine tune-up can improve car fuel economy by an average of 1 mile per gallon.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated. Underinflated tired can decrease fuel economy by up to 1 mile per gallon.
  • Slow down. The faster you drive, the more gasoline your car uses. Driving at 65 miles per hour rather than 55 miles per hour reduces fuel economy by about 2 miles per gallon.
  • Avoid jackrabbit starts. Abrupt starts require about twice as much gasoline as gradual starts.
  • Pace your driving. Unnecessary speedups, slowdowns and stops can decrease fuel economy by up to 2 miles per gallon. Stay alert and drive steadily, not erratically. Keep a reasonable, safe distance from the car ahead of you and anticipate traffic conditions.
  • Use your air conditioner sparingly. The use of air conditioning can reduce fuel economy by as much as 2 miler per gallon under certain speeds and operating conditions.
  • Plan your trips in advance. Combine short trips into one to do all your errands. Avoid traveling during rush hours if possible, to reduce fuel-consumption patterns such as starting and stopping and numerous idling periods. Consider joining a car pool.

Recycling Used Oil

Cars are an indispensable fact of life for most of us. By operating and maintaining our vehicles responsibly, we can balance our desire for convenient transportation and a clean and healthy environment. More...

Tips for Cutting Energy Bills

Here are a few steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient, thereby reducing your heating and cooling bills, and conserving resources at the same time.

Doors and windows

  • Check for leaks and drafts and add weather stripping as needed.
  • Install curtains on your windows.

Furnaces and water heaters

  • Replace inefficient furnaces and water heaters with new high-efficiency models.
  • If buying a new furnace, do not get one larger than you need.
  • Wrap the hot water boiler in an insulating jacket.
  • Clean filters on forced-air furnaces.


  • Insulate older uninsulated homes.
  • If your home already has some insulation, consider increasing the amount of insulation in the attic and insulation to floors over a basement or crawlspace.


  • Install low-flow showerheads.
  • Install a thermostat that will automatically lower nighttime temperatures.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate air in the house, keeping the air mixed.
  • Seal flues in unused fireplaces.
  • Conduct an “energy audit” of your home to evaluate your heating system's efficiency and determine where heat loss may be occurring. Many fuel dealers and utility providers offer these audits as a free service. You can also perform your own home energy audit on the Internet by going to the Department of Energy's website at: and following the instructions found there.

What the oil and natural gas industry is doing through initiatives

Collection of Used Oil Found to be Key in Conservation

This study appraises used oil generation in California, in 2010. However, its key lessons and findings are relevant to other time periods, states and countries. In particular, the study concludes that:
  • the impacts of the used oil management system are greatly affected by the amount of uncollected and improperly disposed used oil;
  • increasing collection results in reduced impacts;
  • for a given collection rate, the environmental impacts, and the benefits achieved, of alternative dispositions (beneficial uses) for used oil are highly sensitive to several key factors -- particularly the mix of virgin products displaced by those from the used oil management system and 
  • the level of pollution control that is used, especially for combustion of Recovered Fuel Oil (RFO is used oil burned, typically with minimal pretreatment); and
  • no single disposition shows consistently lower impacts under all conditions, with greater benefits generally flowing from increasing collection, rather than from changing disposition.

See complete study: Collection of Used Oil Found to be Key in Conservation

Recycling Catalysts Saves Energy and Protects the Environment

The petroleum industry uses valuable metals in the production of fuels. These metals are incorporated in "catalysts" which are materials used to make the chemistry of oil refining more energy efficient and selective in producing fuels to the desired characteristics. Once these catalysts no longer are as effective as necessary, it is time to remove them from service and replace. Refineries utilize catalysts that are "reclaimed", the metals reused to make new catalysts. Some of the catalysts instead have the metals extracted and used for new purposes. For example, a nickel catalyst can be processed into nickel again, eventually becoming part of the shining new stainless steel refrigerator.

Every time metal is reused or reclaimed it means there is no need for expanding a mine, working a smelter harder, or using rail and trucks to deliver it to market. All the stages of mining use fuels and cause pollution. Recycling thereby pays many dividends, not only saving something valuable, but reducing energy use and environmental stress.

Water Conservation through Power Cogeneration

The oil and natural gas industry practices environmental protection and water conservation as a part of many of their operations. These practices are good for business, of course, but they also help protect and conserve resources. As an example, it is common practice for oil refineries to employ "cogeneration". That means that excess energy from normal operations, either in the form of steam or heat, can be used to create additional electrical power. This increases efficiency, and can lead to water conservation because water requirements for cogeneration are often less than for the same power generated by coal-fired boilers or steam-condensing turbines. The electrical energy produced, whether it is used by the refinery (reducing the electrical requirements that might be placed on the power company) or sold to the power company (adding to the available electrical power), uses less water because of the more efficient system. For example, a 6 million-gallon-per-day (MGD) water intake at a refinery might support cogeneration of 525 megawatts (a megawatt, or MW, is one million watts), using gas turbines, versus more than 14 MGD to generate 525 MW by coal-fired boiler with condensing turbine in a commercial power plant. Using half the water in creating the same amount of electricity is a valuable savings for the environment, the consumer and the refinery. It is how good business can benefit everyone.

Water Conservation and Natural Gas Production

In arid desert regions, water conservation becomes a high priority for business, operational, and environmental reasons. For example, one API member with natural gas production operations in Southeastern New Mexico reported in its Sustainable Global Performance report that it is using innovative water treatment technology to conserve fresh groundwater. Water treatment technology is being used to remove hydrogen sulfide gas that is entrained in water that is produced in conjunction with natural gas production. The treated water is then used in the company’s drilling operations, thereby reducing the amount of fresh groundwater that has to be used. This use of treatment technology provides an innovative solution for beneficially reusing produced water. Before using this water treatment technique, the company had to re-inject all waters produced during its natural gas production into a non-producing formation for disposal. During 2000, this water treatment system reduced the company’s use of fresh groundwater by about 4 million gallons. This initiative is helping to ensure that fresh groundwater is available for future residential and agricultural needs in southeastern New Mexico.

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