We are now on day 2 of Big Energy Saving Week and recent figures have shown that energy consumption goes down in a recession, predominantly because people want to save money and production tends to go down in many industries. So, with this in mind, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we really care about energy efficiency or if we are just worried about our wallets?
Before considering how much we pay attention to an issue like energy efficiency, it is important to think about what we actually know about it. Energy efficiency boils down to the efforts we make to reduce the amount of energy we consume on a day to day basis. These efforts might include only filling the kettle up with as much water as you need, turning the thermostat down by one degree or more, or even cutting down on the total use of hot water in the home.
These are immediate changes we can make to our lifestyle, but we also have more permanent options available to us. For example, replacing all of the single glazed windows in your house with B rated double glazing could save you up to £165 a year on your heating bill. Beyond the more conventional efficiency improvements that can be made to our households, we could also consider some more radical adjustments.
How many of us have ever considered investing in renewable energy at a household level?
A quick straw poll gives us a number of interesting responses to this conundrum. I asked family members, colleagues and close friends about their attitudes towards energy efficiency. There was a clear swing towards a financial interest. A few people said that their primary reason for thinking about energy efficiency was concern for the environment and the impact of climate change, but the majority said that they believe it is only worth pursuing energy efficiency measures if it was to save them money.
These results were mirrored in the 2012 Survey of public attitudes and behaviours towards the environment (conducted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.) 84 of people who took part in the survey said that they ‘were concerned about the sharp rises in energy prices.’ It is promising to hear 73 of people said they give a ‘lot’ or a ‘fair’ amount of thought into saving energy in their home, but 69 of those make no effort not to heat rooms they aren’t using.
On a more positive note, 39 of those who took part, replaced an old gas boiler with a condensing boiler; a much more energy efficient system. 81 already have double glazed windows or are in the process of installing them, which again shows promising signs that we do care about energy efficiency. Our roof is where a lot of heat is lost; advice which has been adhered to with 71 topping up their loft insulation.
Unfortunately, it seems the public may lack the relevant information to make an educated choice about the issue of energy efficiency with 53 saying they had never heard of a smart meter. 30 of those who took part have never been offered a smart meter, but with only 46 referring to their smart meter on a ‘daily’ or ‘occasional basis’, does more need to be done to help us understand them?
The survey is extremely helpful in digging out some of the more general trends in our beliefs about energy efficiency. For example, 3 of respondents said they do not believe in climate change. On the other hand, 38 of people said that climate change is caused entirely by human behaviour. A third of people believe nuclear power’s benefits outweigh the risks, but 64 had never heard of carbon capture and storage.
Do we care about energy efficiency? It seems as though opinions are changing, the environment is starting to become part of day to day thinking and the effects we have on it. Why not tell us your views on energy efficiency or enter our competition and share an energy saving tip to be in with the chance to win £7000 worth of energy efficient windows!