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Politicians urged to focus on energy efficiency measures



Seven leading consumer, industry and green organisations have challenged political parties to focus on an energy efficiency programme in order to bring down household energy bills, as the government pledges to invest £540m to benefit a range of social groups.

A new report from the thinktank Green Alliance, called Seven steps to reducing energy bills, found that energy bills are the household expense that most concerns UK consumers, with the average bill in 2012/13 costing £1,267.

Recent price increases from the big six energy suppliers means this will increase to almost £1,500 over the winter.

Government plans aim to reduce household energy bill by an average of £50 through establishing a rebate and reducing the cost of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). The public could also get up to a £1,000 when they move home to spend on energy saving measures and landlords will receive additional support when improving their properties.

In total, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says £540m will be invested in energy efficiency by the government over the next three years.

The Green Alliance report argues that installing energy efficiency measures in homes is a long-term positive solution. It added that most of the UK’s housing stock has “extremely poor energy efficiency”. More than one in three homes are in the worst performing E, F and G Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) bands.

A recent survey by the Energy Bill Revolution found that 85% of those questioned placed energy efficiency measures in their home as one of the top three priorities on the infrastructural development agenda.

The flurry of announcements around price increases from the UK’s largest energy providers led to David Cameron announcing a review into green energy taxes.

The organisations involved in the report said, “We are disappointed by the current lack of political leadership on energy efficiency. Rising wholesale costs are the primary cause of high energy bills, not programmes to improve the UK’s poor housing stock.”

The group added that politicians committing publically to energy efficiency would increase consumer interest and supply chain confidence.

According to the report, at current rates of progress it will take 24 years to insulate all easy to treat cavity walls and lofts. More complex operations, such as solid wall insulation, will take 770 years to complete if the pace is not sped up.

It argues that energy efficiency policies aren’t having the impact needed because the government doesn’t accept that it needs to generate more consumer demand and has no mechanism in place to mobilise local delivery.

Alex Hunter, corporate affairs director at mineral wool manufacturer Rockwool, said, “Politicians are fixated on reforming energy generation and supply and neglecting the need to reduce household energy demand.

“Properly insulated homes can reduce fuel bills by over 50%. It is time for policymakers to introduce sustainable measures to reduce energy usage and stick to them.”

The report also pointed out that over 300,000 energy efficiency measures have been delivered by ECO in the first nine months of 2013. In contrast, the government’s flagship green deal scheme has resulted in just 481 energy efficiency measures being installed.

Further reading:

Government denies household energy bill freeze claims

British public say energy efficiency should be number one infrastructure priority

Green energy firms Good Energy and Ecotricity break mould with winter price freezes

Energy watchdog Ofgem attacks the industry’s profits

Ofgem: energy firms’ profits from customers up 77%


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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