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Energy Efficiency and the future of the UK

As winter approaches, the news will inevitably be full of talk about rising fuel prices. It seems that every year, there’s fresh controversy about the price of fuel for the average consumer. And while how much the public pays to heat their home is important, the real-terms cost to businesses is something that is often overlooked. In the past, economics told us that a country’s wealth rose in direct proportion with the energy it consumed. However, from 2004-2014, the UK used 10% less energy than in the previous decade despite GDP now exceeding pre-financial crisis levels. Also, putting businesses to one side, consider that there are 6% more households across the UK than ten years ago and an interesting trend emerges. And a similar story is evident across the rest of the developed world. These surprising figures have been attributed to advances in a variety of energy efficiency measures, including double-glazing, efficient boilers, LED light bulbs, improved insulation and the increasing popularity of solar panels. But with global energy use set to double over the net 30 years and prices set to rise dramatically, more needs to be done to meet the Government’s target of cutting overall household and business consumption in half by 2050. And with the controversy still raging about global warming, the reduction of harmful emissions by a switch to renewable energy supplies will be become increasingly important for both the government and energy suppliers. In the North East of England, a scheme to help people switch to a renewable energy source is already in full swing. A collaboration between Durham and Newcastle Universities, National Energy Action, Northern Powergrid and British Gas, the £54m Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) was launched in 2011 with the aim of installing smart meters in the homes of customers. Already in place in the homes and businesses of over 12,000 people, the monitors allow them to track their energy usage and, in combination with time-of-use tariffs, have helped them make changes to the way they use electricity.

Smart business energy users

Evidence demonstrates that, armed with individual data, the average customer has reduced their overall energy usage by 3%. During peak hours (between 16:00-20:00 on weekdays) where the cost for energy is more, nearly all consumers tried to reduce their expenditure, leading to a 10% overall drop in peak consumption. Whereas domestic users demonstrated greater flexibility in peak energy consumption, choosing to use high-energy devices like dishwashers and washing machines during cheaper, weekend hours, businesses failed to show any noticeable change. Even when offered incentives to reduce power usage when demand on the grid is high, businesses failed to respond with a change in behaviour. What’s clear is that the needs of the business outweigh the need to save on energy costs. To engage businesses, more has to be done to engage them in schemes suited to their needs, rather than the needs of the government or energy supplier.

New business energy efficiency schemes

So far, several new schemes for businesses have been suggested. One proposal would see a concerted effort to bring renewable energy to smaller businesses, including the installation of solar panels. Not only would this generate energy for the business but also provide a potential revenue stream from any excess power delivered back to the National Grid. Another focuses on providing funding for electric vehicles and improving access to charging stations. In 2012, the English Housing Survey found that three quarters of the UK’s dwellings (that’s a staggering 16.6million) could benefit from energy improvement measures. With the national roll-out of smart meters starting next year, the energy industry expects to see some major changes in the way the UK uses energy. The trial in the North West has shown that smart meters can dramatically change both the attitude and the behaviour of the average consumer. When you consider that 2.28million households (10.4%) in England are in fuel poverty, with that number set to rise, this change is not before time. However, a lot more needs to be done to encourage a similar attitudinal shift in the world of business. At Utility Helpline, we have always been dedicated to helping businesses like yours save money. Our comprehensive range of energy consultancy services can not only find you the right energy supplier but also help you make simple, practical changes to save energy and money. To help reduce the cost energy consumption has on your time and bank account, we can provide the following services: • Multi commercial utility connections • Renewable commercial utility energy solutions • Business electricity and gas meter installations • Business electricity and gas disconnections Once your new connection is in place we can also: • Compare business electricity and gas prices from major and specialist energy providers to get the most competitive supply contracts • Fully manage the set up and valuation of your new energy contract. • Validate your first business electricity and gas bill • Review your business electricity and gas costs year after year to make sure you continue to get the best commercial utility deal Call us today on freephone 0800 043 0423 to discover more about how we can help you and your business get the best deal from your energy supply.

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