For energy efficiency, installing a single low-energy LED bulb may seem like a trivial contribution to helping the environment – but if millions choose LED bulbs, their collective efforts will make a significant dent in the UK’s energy demands. Renewable energy is ‘in vogue’ and grabs the headlines, while energy saving and storing is the ‘Cinderella’ field of energy efficiency and often ignored or derided.
New analysis of government figures comes from the environmental analysis website Carbon Brief. Its author says EU product standards on light bulbs, fridges, vacuum cleaners and other appliances have played a substantial part in reducing energy demand. Provisional calculations show that electricity generation in the UK peaked around 2005. But generation per person is now back down to the level of the 1984 (around 5 megawatt hours per capita). The report says the use of renewables reduced fossil fuel energy by the equivalent of 95 terawatt hours (TWh) between 2005 and now. And last year renewables supplied a record 33% share of UK electricity generation. But in the meantime, humble energy efficiency has contributed to cutting energy demand by 103 TWh. In other words, in the carbon-cutting contest so far, efficiency has won. And what’s more, efficiency is uncontroversial, unlike wind and solar.
The energy efficiency story doesn’t just apply to households. There have been major strides amongst firms too. Big supermarkets have worked hard to improve the performance of their lighting and refrigeration. And because firms and individuals are using less energy, that has offset the rise in energy prices. So whilst the prices have gone up, often bills have gone down. Individuals can do a lot to cut energy demand, not just use LED bulbs. For instance, if you change from a B or C rated fridge to an A++ rated fridge, you can halve your energy use from the appliance, which is significant. The UK government and international climate bodies champion energy efficiency, but issues rarely feature in media coverage and campaigners say they could do a lot more. Achievements in ‘Cinderella’ energy efficiency tend to be completely ignored because there is no radical difference to the energy services that people receive.
Water Powered Technologies have championed energy efficiency and storage for years with their zero energy water pumps. Many people recognise the benefits of using zero energy against ‘powered’ pumps, whether carbon heavy diesel pumps or generated electricity pumps. But there are also benefits against the traditional renewable power generators of solar and wind. The Papa Pump hydro ram works very much on the principle of individuals using natural available energy to power a water delivery system – imagine if every suitable farm or plantation used zero energy pumps and think of the collective carbon savings.
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