Is a cliche I know, but a great way to decarbonise is to use less energy
26th Apr 2021
In the heated debate over which fuel to use to heat buildings, residential and non-domestic, a key policy area is often overlooked and that is energy efficiency.
That said, it sounds an easy thing to do – just use less, but experience tells us it remains a challenge. The easy to do changes have been made or at least identified – loft and cavity insulation; condensing boilers, double-glazing – even if not all homes have made the changes yet.
On non-domestic efficiency, the need to measure and control usage has brought along the welcome increase in heating controls, smart meters being a part of this. There lies a classic example of what I mean, smart meters were being rolled out by the Cameron-Clegg Government, indeed we would all have them by 2020. But the hard graft of delivery kicked in, commitments were watered down and we aren’t even in sight of the finishing line yet.
On domestic energy efficiency, the Green Deal flopped as did the Green Homes Grant. Both well-intentioned Government schemes, arguably both failed because industry wasn’t properly heard. We can’t afford to let it happen again. The Climate Change Committee suggested that over a third of carbon reductions from buildings, by 2030, would be achieved via energy efficiency. It doesn’t sound a great deal, but our recent experience suggests it’s a tough ask. And given the domestic policy failures, perhaps the non-domestic market should become our policy focus.
The very nature of capital investment decisions needed for energy efficiency are common to business compared to households; leveraging finance to pay for them, again a commonplace occurrence. The fact that levies are already placed on business users compared to households suggests the market mechanism should signal higher levels of activity and frankly, there is a huge gain to be had. So what’s stopping business? I’d welcome any thoughts and comments on why non-domestic energy efficiency is seen as the Cinderella of the net zero world. And if your only interest is the debate around what fuel is used – remember this – achieving net zero from a base of lower overall consumption whether hydrogen or electric, is easier to deliver.
Best wishes, Mike Foster, CEO