One thing we have learnt this week – energy efficiency survey

DSCN1674The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has just carried out a poll on energy efficiency in UK.  The findings are for the most part encouraging, but at the same time not wholly surprising.  The top energy efficiency measure being considered was LED light bulbs.  This is an interesting finding.  Up until a year or so ago the light was still rather blue.  As I have blogged on before not only is the light now OK, being warm and indistinguishable from incandescent bulbs of old, but the economics stack up very well, despite the high initial outlay.  It looks like the general public is picking up on this.  The main problem with LED’s is the range they are still not commonly available in wattages higher than an incandescent equivalent of about 60W.

The next most popular energy efficiency measure people surveyed are considering is installing photovoltaic panels (at 9%).  This is again encouraging but not surprising in the same week that the UK energy minister claimed this technology gives a better return than a pension.  Some people would say that’s not hard!  In fact their return is better than savings generally with interest rates being so low.

The big surprise to me is over cavity wall insulation, only 5% of respondents were considering going for this energy efficiency measure.  This is puzzling since the payback is good on cavity wall insulation.  Its easy to do and there is so much concern over gas prices.  Maybe people are concerned over damp issues that used to plague the industry, but I don’t think are a problem anymore.  The energy companies used to subsidise cavity wall insulation but since the green deal its not as cheap as it used to be.  Although the Energy Saving trust still claim its payback is about 3 years (and they are very conservative on such matters).

The last energy efficiency measure that is only at 5% consideration is heat pumps.  This is no surprise.  As we wrote in our book;

Another problem is that ground-source heat pumps are very disruptive to fit. They require either a long length of thin pipe (slinky) to be buried under a wide area of ground (probably an area bigger than an average UK garden to heat an average-sized house) or a borehole. The boreholes need to be quite deep and usually multiple boreholes are required. The disruption doesn’t stop on the outside. These systems work best as low-temperature systems with special radiators or under-floor heating – which is difficult to retrofit in old buildings and therefore expensive.

So a mixed picture – but even if 25% of households started installing LED’s and 9% of households installed PV’s our energy system would be transformed.


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