Energy efficiency is a crucial factor in reducing energy consumption, as well as making energy bills cheaper and homes more comfortable. It’s also central to achieving the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, relative to emissions figures from 1990.
Given that by 2020 we were already halfway to achieving this goal, it’s possible that the ever-growing commitment to energy efficiency is actually proving to be effective. That being said, the coronavirus pandemic certainly will have played a part – emissions were significantly lower in 2020 than in years that were unaffected by the pandemic. Either way, while any progress is positive, there is undoubtedly still a long way to go and plenty more to be done.
UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd has always put energy efficiency at the forefront of its mission. In this blog, we explore how each and every one of us can continue to prioritise energy efficiency, both on a national level and an individual one. Keep reading to find out more about what our government is doing to help the planet and how you can make energy efficiency a priority in your everyday life.
What does ‘energy efficiency’ mean?
Put simply, energy efficiency means using less energy to perform the same task (e.g. switching on a light, or heating water), therefore reducing demand and waste. There are a variety of benefits that come with increased energy efficiency, including: reduced greenhouse gas emissions, less demand for energy imports, increased energy security due to fewer imports, reduced need for energy infrastructure, and lower energy costs both domestically and on a national scale.
Improving energy efficiency is the cheapest and usually the most immediate way to reduce the use of fossil fuels, which is precisely why we should prioritise it in every aspect of our lives. There are huge opportunities to improve energy efficiency in the UK, in almost every sector of the economy. Such sectors include transport, manufacturing, architecture and construction.
The onus doesn’t fall entirely on those in power though; there’s plenty we can do in our personal and professional environments (i.e. at home, at work, or at school/university) to improve our own energy efficiency – more on this later.
Energy efficiency and climate change
Using fossil fuels to produce energy increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide. An excess of greenhouse gases means that too much heat is trapped by the atmosphere, which subsequently causes the significant global warming we’ve seen in recent decades.
So, improving the efficiency of anything that uses energy from fossil fuels will help reduce harmful emissions, as it will require less energy. Switching to renewable energy sources would also work wonders to reduce carbon emissions. Ultimately, prioritising energy efficiency on a global, national, and individual scale is central to tackling climate change.
How is the government planning to make the UK more energy efficient going forwards?
The Ten Point Plan
In November 2020, the government announced the Ten Point Plan. Using Britain’s leading role in the first Industrial Revolution as inspiration, the plan envisions the UK as pioneers of the Green Industrial Revolution too.
The government aims to create thousands of ‘green’ jobs across a variety of sectors. The plan mobilises £12 billion of funding – and potentially more than three times that figure from the private sector – to put green jobs at the forefront of the UK’s proposed green economic revival.
There is also a focus on generating ‘clean power’ through offshore wind farms, nuclear plants, and new hydrogen technologies. The hope is that we can continue to live our normal lives, but with cheaper bills and a healthier planet. While the government is under no illusions that we will suddenly eliminate carbon emissions, they do intend to create a new industry dedicated to carbon capture, which would prevent carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
Carbon emissions will also be reduced by establishing new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This project will harness nature’s ability to absorb carbon and have biodiversity at its heart. Also, by restoring and establishing natural spaces, nature-related sectors will likely see an increase in job opportunities.
The total impact of this plan, as projected by the government and its advisors, will be to reduce UK emissions by 180 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent between 2023 and 2032. This is roughly equal to taking all cars off the road for around two years!
Other points included in the plan are:
● Driving the Growth of Low Carbon Hydrogen
● Accelerating the Shift to Zero Emission Vehicles
● Green Public Transport, Cycling and Walking
● Jet Zero and Green Ships
● Greener Buildings
The Net Zero Strategy
The government released their Net Zero Strategy in October this year, setting out how they intend to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The strategy claims that, since the Ten Point Plan was unveiled last autumn, the government has mobilised £26 billion of public funding for the Green Industrial Revolution and secured more than £5.8 billion of foreign investment.
Some of the main points set out include:
● Lower reliance on fossil fuels by investing in sustainable clean energy, reducing risks of high and variable energy prices, and strengthening energy security.
● Prioritise the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel.
● Call for the electrification of UK vehicles and supply chains
● Put thousands of zero emission cars and vans on UK roads through a zero emission vehicle mandate.
● Reduce energy bills by 2024 (compared to if no action was taken) by implementing energy efficiency measures and cheaper renewable energy sources.
● Dedicate £3.9 billion to decarbonising heat and buildings, including a 3-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme. Homes and buildings will be warmer, cheaper to heat and cleaner to run.
Many of the UK’s homes have been around for a very long time, some well before climate change was discovered, and so their energy efficiency ratings are not always up to scratch. This usually either results in increased energy consumption, as the building cannot retain heat naturally, or very poor living standards – neither of which is acceptable.
Old and/or poor quality buildings, rising energy costs, and the current economic climate means that many cannot afford to sufficiently heat their homes. To try and tackle this issue, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme helps low-income, fuel poor, and/or vulnerable households to cut their energy costs by providing free energy efficient home improvements. The energy efficiency measures that can be installed under ECO3 include internal and external wall insulation systems, loft insulation, heating systems, and boilers.
Certain eligibility criteria must be met in order to qualify for the ECO3 scheme, one of which is being in receipt of specific benefits. If you’re in need of assistance but don’t receive benefits, don’t give up hope just yet – there is a Local Authority Flexible Eligibility scheme which allows for broader qualifying criteria, as do its in-fill mechanisms. There are plenty of online tools available to help you check your eligibility – head over to the UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd website to find ours.
How can you be more energy efficient?
Individuals can improve energy efficiency by reducing consumption and therefore demand for energy. This could be as simple as turning off appliances you aren’t using or buying more efficient products – for example, switching to LED light bulbs. You could even invest in a renewable energy source like solar panels, if you’re able to.
Smart meters are also an accessible and minimal-effort way of maximising energy efficiency at home or at work. They promote energy efficiency by making consumers aware of their energy consumption and encouraging them to reduce it, particularly at peak times.
Installing energy efficiency measures like insulation or eco heating can work wonders for your energy bills and the comfort of your home, plus it’s environmentally friendly. Don’t forget to check out the ECO3 scheme if you’re in need of funding for home improvements – we might be able to help you.
Maximise your energy efficiency with UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd
If you think you’re eligible for the government electric heating grant, the ECO3 scheme, or any other funding assistance geared towards maximising your energy efficiency, look no further than UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd. We take pride in helping people secure the financial support they need, and our experienced technicians will be happy to install all the necessary upgrades to make your home as energy efficient as can be. For more information on how we can help you, or to check your eligibility for a government grant or scheme, visit our website or contact us today.