Ed’s note: Energy efficiency – an opportunity to build trust


Has our conversation around energy efficiency moved on? Have we shifted focus toward renewable generation while ignoring the opportunities offered by efficiency?

You may not know this about editors, but we love hearing from readers. I think it’s a bit of existential validation if I’m honest… Whatever the reason, I was intrigued by an email I got from one of our readers this week. He was commenting on my Ed’s Note from last week and shared this thought:

I totally agree with his [Enrique Dans] message, but I’m concerned that by ignoring energy demand, the proposed map will not create a sustainable energy system.  

Related content:
Read previous editor’s notes here
Read more about our coverage on energy efficiency

With renewables providing perhaps 4% of the world’s primary energy, I’m trying to get thermal performance into the conversation.  The untapped potential could produce more emission reduction per investment dollar than any other option.  Space conditioning energy is primarily supplied by fossil fuels, and the largest part of residential consumption throughout the world.  Unfortunately, efficiency programs do not target this huge source of wasted energy.

This got me thinking. The conversation around energy efficiency now is as relevant as its always been – in fact, it maybe more relevant than ever. This is why…

Householders are spending more time at home than possibly any other time in recent memory. Traditionally, energy usage is spread between work places and home usage is fairly low during the week – and some are feeling the bite in their bills. While utilities may have suspended disconnections during this time, the reality is that these bills will eventually have to be paid and some households may be in for a surprise at the size of the problem.

Energy efficiency during this time may well enhance efficiency lessons at a time when the ‘moral’ of the story is hitting householders in their pockets like never before.  As the hemispheres move from spring to summer and autumn to winter, household usage is fluctuating as heating and cooling needs change. Helping consumers manage their consumption during this time is an opportunity for utilities to further create a trust relationship with consumers which will further cement the goodwill being experienced.  This can be done by sharing the actual impact of various appliances on consumption, or simple strategies to move energy heavy tasks to take advantage of time of use tariffs where these are in place. These tips can vary from the optimal number of washing loads to do on a weekly basis, to advice on thermal insulation and appliance energy ratings.

The IEA and IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol, believes that energy efficiency should make up a component in all economic stimulus programmes, stating in a meeting at the end of April:  “Experience has proven the effectiveness of including energy efficiency in stimulus programmes. Targeted investments now can create jobs immediately and also bring long-term benefits for consumers, businesses and the environment.”

And in St Louis, the City has recently adopted a “new standard designed to reduce its carbon footprint. The Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) will apply to all buildings in the city 50,000 square feet and larger and represents a tremendous step forward in the city of St. Louis’ climate leadership.” This strategy, which was developed in conjunction with the Washington University in St. Louis has set what are called “ambitious, yet achievable, BEPS targets.” The standard will come into effect in 2021 with all buildings needing to be compliant by 2025.

As we again being offered opportunities we have previously squandered and a chance for a ‘do over’ in our response to climate change?

What do you think? As mentioned above – I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you and yours safe and healthy

Until next time!