The Energy Efficient Deployment Office (EEDO), part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has issued an Energy Efficiency Strategy for the UK. Designed to “maximise the benefits of existing policy and to realise the wider energy efficiency potential across the UK economy” the strategy aims to meet the Government’s perception of energy efficiency belonging at the heart of a low-carbon economy.
The strategy is aimed at homes and businesses and has received broad support from the CBI whose Head of Energy and Climate Change Policy, Dr Matthew Brown, said that “the current policy landscape is too complex, particularly for companies, so this should mark the start of a more strategic approach to business energy efficiency by the Government.”
The full report runs to 24 pages but it is accompanied by a host of supplementary documents. Some, such as the review of energy which could be saved within the home, make fascinating reading. For example, wearing a thick jumper at home could save the average household 1,530kWh per year whilst only filling the kettle to the level required could save 80kWh per year.
Some of the measures suggested within the domestic review, such as installing sensors to turn off unwanted lights, could also have implications for the business which is looking to take its first steps in energy efficiency. But it is the review in respect of businesses which makes the most interesting reading. Clearly recognising that even within the SME business sector there are a range of business types, the report does recognise the need to undertake further studies to provide strategies for different business models.
One finding, however, is fairly clear. The report concludes that businesses generally require a very high rate of return on energy efficiency projects before they will invest. Various factors influencing this requirement include the perception of the hidden costs of implementation, upfront costs, and energy efficiency not being a strategic issue. Interestingly, the closer an energy manager is to the CEO, the more likely energy efficient measures will be adopted. The report also suggests that firms may fail to account for hidden benefits such as productivity and enhanced corporate reputation when thinking about adopting energy efficiencies.
The energy efficiency strategy overwhelmingly gives the impression that it is the first step on a long journey which will require further research and guidance across all sectors. In a way that step by step journey mirrors the journey which will face many businesses who seek to improve their own energy efficiencies. Sometimes the business which moves its energy policy on one step at a time may in the end prove to be the most successful and every step taken, however small, will be a win.
The energy efficiency strategy concludes with the following:
“Improving the way we use energy is essential to our future economy and future way of life. We have the opportunity to lead the world in becoming more energy efficient and we must take it.”