It’s time to Save it for your Monergy! (and for the planet too)

By Dr Mari Martiskainen

The Energy Security Strategy misses an opportunity for deep energy demand reduction

The UK announced its long-awaited Energy Security Strategy today. As expected, it outlines  major energy supply related options: more nuclear power, more fracking exploration, developing hydrogen, and expanding on renewable energy generation. The Strategy’s focus is on fixing energy supply, but committing the UK to options like nuclear and more fossil fuel exploration will lock us into expensive and polluting options for years to come. Given the urgency, it is alarming there is very little focus on deep energy demand reduction.

It is perhaps a good time to remember the 1975 Save it and 1986 “Get more for your Monergy” energy saving campaigns in the UK. In the 1970s the oil crisis saw concerns about prices and energy waste. 1986 was even titled the “Energy Efficiency Year”[i]. The world is struggling again and the current energy crisis needs a mixture of measures to deal with this. Addressing energy consumption and speeding up those solutions which we already have at hand is the most sensible way forward. We can start by insulating every home in the UK first, and switching to renewable heating like heat pumps. This would reduce reliance on gas and reduce emissions, and more importantly help those who now have to choose between heating and eating due to energy price hikes.

We have the methods to fix our leaky and cold homes, and now is the time to finally take action (an option like hydrogen for home heating is a very distant option, if even that). A national home energy demand reduction programme, coupled with a national energy demand reduction campaign, should be an essential part in fixing the energy crisis. We know that the more ambitious energy efficiency programmes of the 2000s have had an impact on energy use in homes, which peaked at the end of the decade and has declined ever since. That’s why the government needs to reverse the collapse in investment in insulation and other efficiency measures. Carbon Brief estimates that cuts to programmes since 2013 have effectively added £808 million onto total household energy bills.

Finally, this is an Energy Security Strategy. Where is climate change in the content? In case the government was too busy exploring North Sea oil and gas options, the latest IPCC report also came out earlier in the week. It makes sombre reading, showing that we have no time left to keep average temperature rise to 1.5 Degrees. More fossil fuels now will not help fix the climate crisis – quite the opposite. But rapid and deep energy demand reduction might just about help us avoid the worst of it, whilst also helping to improve energy security.

[i] Mallaburn, P.S., Eyre, N. Lessons from energy efficiency policy and programmes in the UK from 1973 to 2013. Energy Efficiency 7, 23–41 (2014).

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