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Energy efficiency helps households battle rising utility costs

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New data from the government reveals that watching TV, washing clothes and even turning on the lights is now cheaper than it was ten years ago.

That might be a surprise to many households as they review their electricity bills, bearing in mind that all the statistics of the past year or more have unequivocally stated that energy costs have doubled over the decade.

Reading the research closely, we discovered that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was sharing some positive news about energy efficiency, rather than utility bills.

The report, Energy efficient products – helping us cut energy use, shows the cost of running household appliances has fallen dramatically and, in some cases, halved due to tougher minimum performance standards that have led to more and more energy efficient products dominating the market.

DECC reports that an appliance’s energy rating is the most important factor for consumers when choosing a new fridge or washing machine. In just three years, the sales of energy efficient refrigerators, washing machines and televisions increased by around 18% on average.

But the most pleasing piece of information from DECC is its wholehearted endorsement of LED lights.

DECC says, “Households could spend 80% less if they used LEDs rather than traditional bulbs over the course of the LED bulb’s lifespan. This includes the cost of purchasing traditional light bulbs over five and half years, which would be about £135, compared to a single LED that will last the same amount of time and cost only around £9.30.

“If switched on constantly, a single LED bulb lasts around five and half years – that’s 50 times longer than a traditional light bulb, which lasts only about 42 days.”

We advise our customers that a quality LED light should last for up to 50,000 hours. Going for a reputable, trusted brand rather than a ‘cheap as chips’ import will ensure exceptionally long lifespan and best quality of light.

We also recommend investing in eco-showerheads, eco-taps and tap aerators. These products reduce water consumption by more than 50% and so cut the energy used to heat and pump the water.

The report was published alongside the Household Electricity Survey, which showed that as more and more households save energy through better appliances, there is the potential to save around 13% of the UK’s total residential electricity consumption – equivalent to two large power stations.

The report looked at the impact of energy efficiency standards and labels for refrigerators, washing machines and televisions:

-An average refrigerator bought in 2013 would cost half the amount to run over the course of its lifetime compared to one bought in 2000.
-A new washing machine in 2013 would use 28 kilowatt hours of electricity less each year than the most energy efficient model from 2000 – enough to boil around 150 kettles.
-A new television from 2005 would eat up £40 more energy in its lifetime than a television of an equivalent model from 2013.

A typical family upgrades the fridge and washing machine every 12 and a half years, buying more efficient products each time. A family would have paid around £25 less in electricity costs to run their fridge and washing machine last year compared to what they would have paid in 2000.

With continual price reductions, buying these products in 2013 would have cost households around £250 less than if they purchased equivalent models in 2000 or 2001.

The report focused on European-wide standards aimed at making household appliances more energy efficient and removing the least efficient products from the market.

Energy labels indicate relative performance in terms of efficiency, steering consumers towards the most efficient models. The Household Electricity Survey focuses on how electrical appliances are used in homes and identifies what consumers can do to help to reduce energy consumption.

Ed Davey, energy and climate change secretary, says, “Making everyday appliances more energy efficient has helped to keep more money in the pockets of consumers – without people having to do a thing.

“Newer, less power-hungry appliances are coming out all the time thanks to better product standards and improving technology – which means running costs are going to keep falling, saving people even more money.”

To that, we say simply – “thank goodness for small mercies”. We are all facing ever rising utility bills. It is a fact that they have risen by nearly 40% in the past three years alone. And we’re pretty sure that Mr Davey is aware of growing anger over the way the Big Six energy companies operate. Without energy saving products, our bills would be so much higher.

Mark Sait is managing director of full-service energy efficiency specialists SaveMoneyCutCarbon.com.

Photo: Anton Fomkin via Flickr

Further reading:

Philips and Unite Students in a £21m LED partnership to reduce carbon footprint of student housing

EU Commissioners announce 30% energy savings target by 2030

Just three EU countries on track to meet energy efficiency targets

The Guide to Sustainable Clean Energy 2014

Mark Sait is managing director of SaveMoneyCutCarbon, a uniquely positioned full-service efficiency partner to organisations and homes that want to reduce energy, water and carbon to improve sustainability. Clients include major hospitality groups, property ownership groups, distribution centres, theme parks and corporate offices as well as SMEs and private residences.

Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/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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Energy

What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?

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Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/sdecoret

It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?

The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.

A Strategy, Instead of a Plan

But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.

The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.

A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth

But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.

Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push

While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.

The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.

But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.

This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.

Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.

In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.

It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.

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