Energy Efficiency

Ministers must adopt several new energy efficiency measures to help unlock savings of £1.3bn a year for UK businesses, according to a new report from think tank Policy Exchange. The study calls for a new approach to encourage investment in business energy efficiency. Specifically, the report recommends that businesses rates should be linked with Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) to incentivise landlords. Meanwhile, a new Energy Efficiency Delivery Unit (EEDU) could help to bridge the gap between viable projects and available capital, the report claims. Policy Exchange suggests the unit should mirror the Heat Network Delivery Unit, which offers expertise, certification and finance for both public and private projects. “Improving energy efficiency is amongst the easiest and cheapest ways to decarbonise our energy system,” Policy Exchange research fellow and report author Joshua Burke said. “Businesses and public sector organisations spend the equivalent of nearly 5% of GDP (£22bn) on energy every year but too many organisations still aren’t investing enough in energy efficiency. It needs to be seen as a major strategic investment which is both good for the environment and good for profitability.

Edie 25th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 September 2017

Smart Meters

Ed Miliband’s greatest – and perhaps only – legacy is going horribly wrong, say researchers investigating Britain’s £12.5bn smart meter programme. In 2009 the former climate change secretary ordered Britain’s energy giants to rip out the existing meters in people’s homes and replace them with “smart meters”. These allow homeowners to see how much energy they are using – for example, when they boil a kettle – with the aim of encouraging them to use less. However, research to be published this week shows that, with the meters already fitted in about 7.7m homes, the reality is turning out to be very different. “The costs are high at £200-£300 per home and the energy savings are tiny,” said Benjamin Sovacool, professor of energy policy at Sussex University. Smart meters measure gas and power use and transmit the data to home digital display units, so consumers can monitor consumption. They also send the data to energy suppliers so there is no need to send somebody to read the meter. Sovacool found, however, that the programme risks descending into chaos. “This is the largest government information technology project in history. It means installing 104m pieces of new equipment when counting separate electricity and gas meters, display monitors and wireless networks. It is so behind schedule that to hit the target of national coverage by 2020, suppliers would need to install 40,000 smart meters per day.” Sovacool and his colleagues also found that the £100m now set aside to promote the programme has made it into one of the world’s biggest advertising campaigns – but many people still have no idea what the meters are for. “The technology has generated ‘confusion and resistance’ in many households. There is little awareness of the benefits or of how the technology works,” he said.

Times 17th Sept 2017 read more »

Response from Smart Energy GB 19th Sept 2017 read more >>


Posted: 17 September 2017

Local Energy

Think tanks says funding for energy efficiency improvements should be taken out of the hands of utilities. An influential think tank has said that councils and other local groups, rather than utilities, should distribute energy efficiency funding. The left of centre Institute for Public Policy and Research (IPPR) North has called for a revamp of the ECO (Energy Company Obligation) scheme under which larger energy companies are obliged to provide energy efficiency measures, like double glazing and insulation, for low-income and vulnerable households. The IPPR North said that take up of ECO has been lower than predicted because suppliers lack incentives to cut their customers’ energy use. The think tank has recommended that the funding should instead be handed to councils and other local groups, such as co-operatives and local companies, which could commission the improvement work. Channelling the funding through grassroots groups rather than energy companies would also keep more money in the local economy.

Utility Week 14th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 15 September 2017

Energy Efficiency

Buildings use around 40% of our total energy consumption and account for over 30% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, but innovative building concepts – such as passive houses, zero-carbon buildings and whole house retrofits – are not yet widely used by the construction and renovation industry. How can we accelerate the uptake of these new innovations? This was the question we set out to address in a recent task for the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand.

Sussex Energy Group 7th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 8 September 2017

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficient improvements to home heating, insulation, lighting and appliances could reduce the energy consumed in UK households each year by a quarter and knock £270 off the average household energy bill of £1,100 – a saving that is equivalent to the output of six nuclear power stations the size of Hinkley Point C. That’s according to the briefing paper published today by the UK Energy Research Centre and University of Sussex Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, which comes ahead of the Government’s long-overdue Clean Growth Plan and amidst an ongoing independent review into the cost of energy. Using strict HM Treasury guidelines for policy appraisal – which involves estimating the cash value of changes in energy demand, CO2 emissions, air quality and home comfort – the researchers estimate that investing in efficient heating, insulation, controls, lighting and appliances could deliver a net benefit to the UK economy of £7.5 billion.

UKERC 6th Sept 2017 read more »

University of Sussex 6th Sept 2017 read more »

The Passivhaus standard is one of the fastest-growing energy standards in the world, and often dubbed the gold standard of energy efficiency and indoor comfort. There are currently over 65,000 Passivhaus buildings worldwide. Here, the Passivhaus Trust explains why all self-builders should be striving for the Passivhaus standard.

i-Build 1st September 2017 read more »

Posted: 7 September 2017

Energy Efficiency

People should be banned from selling poorly insulated homes, according to scientists who led government-funded research on energy efficiency. The energy wasted in British homes is equivalent to the output of six nuclear power stations the size of Hinkley Point C, the UK Energy Research Centre found. It calculated that the average household energy bill could be reduced by £270 a year by installing better insulation in lofts and walls, upgrading boilers or using more efficient appliances. Nick Eyre, professor of energy and climate policy at the University of Oxford, one of the report’s authors, said the government should consider targets for housing efficiency similar to the ban on new petrol and diesel cars. He said that one of the most effective measures would be to tell homeowners “you can’t sell a house until it reaches a certain level of efficiency”. The government is expected to publish a Clean Growth Plan in the next few weeks.

Times 6th Sept 2017 read more »

More efficient use of energy in the UK would save as much power as could be generated by six new nuclear reactors and shave £7.5bn from energy costs, experts have calculated. But to achieve such savings would require substantial changes to government policy because there are few incentives for households to carry out the necessary measures, such as insulation, which can take 20 years to pay for themselves via bill savings. About a quarter of current energy use in heating and electricity could be cut in a “cost-effective” manner producing savings overall in terms of bills, according to the UK Energy Research Centre. Households would save about £270 a year on bills, and more through less tangible improvements such as healthier lifestyles from warmer homes and better air quality. A further quarter of current domestic energy use could also be cut – reducing the UK’s domestic energy consumption by half, or as much as could be generated by 12 new nuclear reactors the size of Hinkley Point C – but this would require investment, for instance in solid wall insulation, heat pumps and demand management technology, which would be less likely to be repaid in bill savings within 20 years. Current government policy provides few incentives to households to invest in energy-saving measures since the flagship Green Deal policy, providing loans for such improvements, was axed by the last government. However, many households have continued to take measures facilitated by improved technology such as more efficient boilers and low-energy lightbulbs and other appliances. In 2015, according to the report, the average annual energy bill for a dual-fuel household was £490 less than it would have been without such efficiencies. The use of gas, mostly for heating, has dropped by 27% since 2004, and the use of electricity by households fell 13% in the same period, according to the report entitled Unlocking Britain’s First Fuel. Jan Rosenow, senior research fellow at the University of Sussex, said many of the potential future improvements were “unlikely to happen” without policy changes. However, energy bills have continued to rise in real terms to about £1,110 a year, according to the study, in part because of higher fuel costs. If all the possible improvements outlined in the report were made, bills could drop to £560 a year.

Guardian 6th Sept 2017 read more »

England’s householders get a raw deal over insulating their homes to save on energy bills, researchers say. Families in other nations receive much more help to reduce bills, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) says. The researchers say recent UK government cuts to energy efficiency programmes are “ludicrous” – and the opposite of what’s needed. The government says it will soon announce new policies soon as part of its long-delayed Clean Growth Plan. But it would need to radically improve measures to match the support for home improvements offered in other nations. Currently it’s hard for anyone in the UK outside the poorest fifth of society to access public funds to help with insulation. The failed UK Green Deal programme offered improvement loans at 7% interest. German families have government-funded loans at 0.75% interest, French couples receive E16,000 tax rebates for energy saving; and Scots qualify for advice and zero-interest loans. UKERC says before 2012, UK levies on energy were helping to drive down bills in England. Without the policies, bills would be around £500 a year higher than they are now, they say. They say bills could be lowered by hundreds of pounds further – but only if ministers re-instate widespread incentives to householders that were banished by David Cameron’s decision to “cut the Green Crap” – (environmental policies) in response to rising energy prices. Nick Eyre, Professor of Energy Policy at Oxford, said: “The ‘Green Crap’ reduced energy bills. Until that’s understood and acknowledged we’re not going to make any progress on this agenda.” The researchers say household energy consumption fell by 37% between 1970 and 2015 – largely thanks to insulation funded by the levy on energy bills, higher standards for condensing boilers and EU efficiency rules on electrical appliances. UKERC says spreading home renovation to tens of millions more people would be much a cheaper way of achieving climate change laws than by cleaning up electricity supply, industry or transport. The researchers look enviously across the Channel, where President Macron has made energy efficiency a major policy initiative. Pedro Guertler, one of the report’s authors, told BBC News: “The UK offered loans at 7% under the Green Deal… the French offered tax breaks. Which is likely to be more successful?” The report comes as Professor Dieter Helm from Oxford University is preparing a report to government on cutting energy prices. Professor Watson said it made no sense to consider prices without considering reducing energy demand.

BBC 6th Sept 2017 read more »

UK homeowners could cut their yearly bills by hundreds of pounds by making their properties more energy efficient, a new report says. “Cost-effective” investments up to 2035 could save a quarter of the energy used by households, the UK Energy Research Council (UKERC) report says, worth an average of £270 per household per year at current energy prices. This would come on top of savings already made. Around 140 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy would be saved – roughly equivalent to the output of six Hinkley C-sized nuclear power stations, it notes, though savings would be in heat as well as power.

Carbon Brief 6th Sept 2017 read more »

The results of the European Council’s proposals on energy efficiency are in. In a worst-case scenario, the target could plummet to 0.04 percent. This will make it nearly impossible for the EU to deliver on the Paris Agreement. Energy efficiency is key to achieving the ambitious carbon reduction goals set out in the Paris Agreement. The International Energy Agency (IEA) created a model scenario, aligned with the Agreement, which indicates that half of global emission reductions will be achieved through energy efficiency measures. This is consistent with work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and others. In consideration of these objectives and the multiple societal benefits delivered by energy efficiency, the European Commission adopted the principle of “Efficiency First” in its Winter Package of legislation. The Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) is a key part of the package, designed to deliver energy savings of 30 percent by 2030. Article 7 of the EED outlines requirements for energy efficiency obligations that would deliver about half of the Directive’s entire savings and is a key driver of energy efficiency in Europe.

European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy 25th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 6 September 2017

Energy Efficiency

It will take more than a century to fully decarbonise the existing UK housing stock at current home insulation rates, according to a new report from WWF. New policies are urgently required to boost the energy efficiency of new and existing homes if the UK is to reach its long-term climate targets, the research claims. The report calls for the soon-to-be-released Clean Growth Plan to include a strategy that triples the speed at which existing homes are retrofitted, to ensure that four million homes are improved by 2025.

Edie 2nd Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 4 September 2017

Smart Meters

First survey findings from customers post-installation suggest tailored advice, in-home demonstrations and meaningful follow-ups are critical factors to maximising smart meter potential. Ostensibly, the main phase of the government’s smart meter rollout is well underway. By the end of 2020, almost every household and small business in the country will have been offered a free smart meter.

Business Green 31st Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 1 September 2017

Energy Efficiency

Sales of vacuum cleaners that produce more noise and heat than suction are banned under EU rules from today. The ban on sales across the EU area affects vacuum cleaners using more than 900 watts and emitting more than 80 decibels. Some anti-EU campaigners say homes won’t be properly cleaned if people have to buy lower wattage machines. But energy experts say the best low-power appliances clean just as well as high-wattage machines. They say some manufacturers deliberately increased the amount of electricity their appliances use because shoppers equate high-wattage with high performance.

BBC 1st Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 1 September 2017


Brexit regulation bonfire could raise electricity bills £90. Less efficient Chinese appliances could flood the market. The study by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit analysed the ramifications of any moves to unpick the EU’s energy regulations for appliances and lightbulbs. The analysis showed consumption would jump by around 3.5% or half the additional generation due to Hinkley Point C.

Utility Week 24th Aug 2017 read more »

Business Green 24th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 25 August 2017