Utility Week

Utility Week 9th May 2014

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that taken together have a big impact. The combination of LED lighting, draught-proof- ing, replacement shower head and lo top- up insulation is one that millions of homes could benefit from. On their own, each of these measures save between £10 and £60 a year. Taken together, they save about £200 a year and give a warmer, more efficient home. So who should be selling these measures to households? Our own public attitudes research shows that 60 per cent said they would take on a trusted local business to install energy efficiency measures in their home. If the local tradesperson is empowered to sell energy efficiency measures, then it is a highly effec- tive way of encouraging take-up. The Request project that we undertook with the trade found that 75 per cent of local tradespeo- ple felt more confident about offer- ing energy efficiency measures to homeowners aer receiving proper training – both on the actual meas- ures and the relevant energy saving advice. The increased knowledge not only had a positive effect on their ability to sell products, result- ing in increased sales, but also meant that homeowners were more receptive to the benefits of energy efficiency. It's important that we find new routes to customers because subsi- dies for energy efficiency are likely to become more limited in the long term. As a result of political pressure to cut consumer energy bills, the government is planning to reduce the Energy Company Obligation (Eco). The largest single impact of this reduc- tion will be a major cut to the level of sup- port available from Eco for the solid wall insulation applied to older homes. This is why there is a need for installers and retailers to identify new ways of selling products. Solid wall insulation, for example, can be an expensive measure even with sub- sidies, so this requires additional thought to make it more cost-effective for the millions of homes that could benefit. 6 | 9th - 15th May 2014 | UtILIty WEEK Comment A t the moment a paradox is emerging within the energy efficiency sector. On the one hand, we know there are mil- lions of homes that could benefit massively from energy efficiency measures, but at the same time the level of confidence within the industry does not match this potential market. Millions of people engage with the Energy Saving Trust every year, so we know there is a genuine interest in energy efficiency, with most people recognising the benefits. How- ever, the gap between compelling interest and actual action is still significant. So how to engage homeowners to turn this interest into action? There is no easy answer, but a starting point should be look- ing at how, who and why. We need to look at how energy efficiency is sold to householders. Too oen we think of energy efficiency only as a solution to a financial problem of energy bills. But most people – while caring about bills – improve their homes for comfort, as well as financial reasons. We need to be much better at plac- ing energy efficiency within the context of home improvement. Insulation delivers real improvements in comfort. It makes cold rooms usable throughout the year. New heating systems and controls ensure that different parts of your home can be the right temperature for you. LED lighting can provide spotlights that can brighten up dark corners at a low run- ning cost. And the comfort benefits from energy efficiency aren't a luxury. For children and the elderly, a warm, well-ventilated home protects against higher risks of physical and mental health problems. The key is understanding each person as an individual, what matters to them and why they should be interested in energy efficiency. Of course, for many households the finan- cial savings will be compelling. But there are opportunities for us to create new types of offering that will appeal to those families. For example, it would be great to see install- ers promoting a bundle of smaller measures Turning interest into action Widespread understanding among homeowners of the benefits of energy efficiency measures is not reflected in the levels of take-up. What can be done to convince households to get involved? Chief executive's view Philip Sellwood, Energy Saving Trust One way could be targeting households who are already working on their property. Not only does this set energy efficiency within a wider home improvement context, but it can also reduce the cost of the works, because costs are spread across a wider upgrade programme. We don't need to con- vince householders of this: research from the UK Energy Research Centre and the Univer- sity of East Anglia showed that households would be three times as likely to consider energy efficiency upgrades alongside other home improvements, works and renovation projects. Our own Trigger Points research indicated that 85 per cent of UK households would stretch their budget on home improve- ments or a renovation project to pay for energy efficiency measures and upgrades at that time. While we can develop new ways of selling energy efficiency, it is time for a long-term message of support for energy efficiency across all political parties. This united and consistent approach can give commercial organisations the confidence to invest in energy efficiency and help the industry to continue to move forward. The message to underpin this cross-party commitment is that energy efficiency is a win for citi- zens and business. It is a win for the citizen by having warmer, healthier homes that save them money on energy bills, and a win for industry, which is able to sell these products and services more effectively, leading to an increased market. There is no other single infrastructure issue that delivers a better return than energy efficiency. For every £1 spent on energy effi- ciency, there is a positive return of £3 to UK plc. What's not to like? Improved targeting, compelling improve- ment packages and different messaging around better homes, better health and improved comfort can go a long way in trans- forming strong consumer interest into energy efficiency action. "It is time for a long-term message of support for energy efficiency across all political parties"

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