Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is always the first thing to consider when looking to reduce the carbon footprint of a building.

Although renewable energy technologies are often regarded as more exciting than insulation and behaviour change (e.g. turning a thermostat down by 1°C ), they need to be considered alongside energy efficiency for the following reasons:

  • Energy efficiency measures are less costly than the installation of renewables and a few simple alterations or behaviour changes can lead to a substantial reduction in energy needs, thereby reducing heating costs and carbon emissions.
  • Generally, for a particular renewable technology the more energy that it can produce, the more expensive it will be. For example, if choosing between solar installations, those producing most energy will cost more. The same applies to wind, biomass, etc. It is, therefore, cost effective to reduce the amount of energy that you need in the first place so that the smallest necessary renewable energy system is required.
  • Renewable energy installations, like all equipment, require a certain amount of energy expenditure over their lifecycle (in raw material extraction, manufacture, etc). This is called embodied energy. The smaller the apparatus used to generate renewable energy, the less embodied energy it will have compared with larger installations of the same kind.

If you are interested in increasing the energy efficiency of your home or business, or the installation of renewable technologies, you can contact the following for free advice:

  • Energy Efficiency Advice Centre / Sustainable Energy Centre. The freephone number, 0800 512 012 will automatically put you through to your local centre, which can provide advice on the most efficient, practical and cost effective measures for your home and give details of any grants or discounts that may be applicable, some of which apply to all householders.
  • The Carbon Trust helps business and the public sector to cut carbon emissions, and supports the development of low carbon technologies. They can be contacted by freephone, on 0800 085 2005.

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