Everyone in the UK can help to close the energy gap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions just by learning to use energy more efficiently. Being efficient simply means making sure energy is used only when needed, minimising the amount wasted.
In 2007, the UK Government estimated that the measures suggested in its energy efficiency action plan could save over 272 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy by the end of 2016 – cutting the UK’s energy use by about 18%.
If people consume less energy, less needs to be generated. While new power stations aim to close the UK’s predicted energy gap by adding to the supply, energy efficiency aims to close it from the opposite side, by reducing demand. Improving energy efficiency is also the most cost-effective and immediate way to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The ways UK energy users can become more efficient include:
- insulating buildings to prevent heat being wasted
- only using fixtures and appliances with a good energy efficiency rating
- using fixtures and appliances efficiently – only starting the washing machine once it is full, for example
- switching appliances off fully when they are not in use.
Becoming energy efficient can require major changes to attitudes and habits, and some measures can involve significant upfront costs. The challenge is to develop a comprehensive, nationwide approach that will allow the country to access the huge potential energy savings achievable through energy efficiency.
Efficiency in the home
Simple efficiency measures, such as installing insulation and turning off domestic appliances left on standby, can reduce energy wastage in UK households, helping to cut people’s energy bills and lower their carbon emissions.
Efficiency in the workplace
The Government estimates that UK businesses waste 10–20% of the energy they buy. Eliminating this wastage could help reduce demand for energy, lower carbon emissions and save money.