Energy efficiency in the home must be focused on the right areas
Wednesday 27th June 2012
A report released yesterday by the Energy Saving Trust,
the Nation”, has suggested that UK households are wasting significant amounts of energy by leaving computers, TV and other electronic devices
on standby. The report also concluded that most household electricity use is in
the kitchen and called for more attention to be paid to reducing the power consumption
of big household appliances.
I would certainly agree with the spirit of the report that clearly
states there is much more that can be done to reduce household energy usage.
However, I would argue that we need to be careful to ensure that these energy
efficiency efforts are directed in the best possible way.
Reducing energy usage is not simply a question of improving power
ratings of appliances or reducing the power consumed by devices on standby. Of
course we would welcome other device manufacturers taking steps like TV
manufacturers have in recent years to lower standby power consumption.
Alongside this though we really need to take how consumers use their appliances
and devices into consideration.
As our COO, Chris Shelley, commented yesterday, we must be sensible about how feasible it is for
households to switch off appliances completely and the difference it will - or
won’t - make.
Turning a TV fully off may well be an easy thing for consumers to do, but
it will actually save very little electricity compared to, for instance a set
top box. For consumers though, it is difficult to turn these boxes off as they
would lose the recording functionality which was the reason they got the device
in the first place. Similarly, one of the most energy-hungry appliances in the
home is the fridge-freezer, running non-stop, but turning this off is simply
not an option.
We have to consider all of these issues when we talk about reducing
household energy usage. Understanding consumer behaviour must go hand in hand
with education programmes and improved device efficiencies. Without this, the
risk is that attempts at helping us to become more energy efficient will be
focusing on completely the wrong areas.
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