In the UK there is an ongoing public discussion about the energy crisis precipitated by global ‘post covid’ gas demand, climate change and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Both UK media and politicians persistently bracket renewable energy and ‘energy efficiency’ (by which they also mean insulation, or energy conservation) with ‘long term’ or ‘medium term’, rather than seeing them as things that can be done quickly.
In contrast they often talk about new oil or gas wells, or even nuclear power stations, as immediate choices or options. This flies in the face of evidence and probably reflects fossil fuel industry lobbying and simply out-of-date assumptions.
So although I don’t claim to be an energy expert I put together my own list of potential “quick wins’ to cut carbon and or gas. (I’ve put this on twitter @campaignstrat) so if you want to put me right, that’s an opportunity. A longer version with the sources is here. See also E3G doc below.
Here it is:
Twelve Quick Wins To Cut Gas and Carbon. firstname.lastname@example.org @campaignstrat
Examples 30 March 2022 with sources
- Insulation and renewable energy refurb for homes. Installation time: 1 – 10 days. In Maldon, Essex the Dutch-originated whole house ‘Energy Jump’ [Energiesprong] refurb system implemented by Moat Housing and Enegie cut home electricity use by 84%, eliminated gas and enabled homes to export surplus power (achieving negative carbon).
- Turn down house heating thermostat. Time to deploy: immediate. Turning down the thermostat 1.C will cut bills by about 10%. A comfortable temperature is often given as 18-21.C.
- Reduce flow temperature on condensing gas boilers. Time to deploy: immediate (or with visit by engineer). Can reduce bills 6-8%. (Reduced flow temperature reduces heat of water sent to radiators but not room temperature).
- Loft insulation. Installation usually less than one day. Typically costs £4-600, saves £150/year (pre 2022 prices), with £250 labour (Checkatrade/ EST). Increases value of home by up to 16%.
- External wall insulation. Installation time 3 days. An Ayrshire 1920s bungalow reduced gas use by 27% and electricity 28% following external wall insulation.
- Underfloor Insulation: Camden Council worked with Q-Bot to install underfloor insulation in 48 properties. Reduced heat loss by 77% (Time to deploy not stated)
- Stop Speeding. Time to deploy: immediate. An economical driving trial by AA staff cut weekly petrol/diesel fuel bills 10 – 33%. Driving at 70mph uses 9% more fuel than at 60mph. Driving at 80mph uses 25% more. 48% of motorway drivers exceed 70mph. 11% do 80mph (3.8m) so enforcing the speed limit would cut their fuel use 25%.
- Tower block Refurbishment: 314 tower flats at Queens Cross, Glasgow built in 1969 were refurbished to cut energy use by 80%. One resident said “I haven’t switched on my heating for two years as there is just no need”. (Time taken unknown)
- Return UK national home insulation to 2012 levels. Time to deploy policy: immediate. 2012 installs ran at 2.3m a year before ‘cutting the green crap’ policy crashed it. Homes installs of loft and cavity wall insulation plummeted 92% and 74% in 2013, and have never recovered. UK has worst insulated homes in Europe.
- Remove policy block on Onshore Wind Farms. Time to deploy policy: immediate. Time to construct: weeks or months once permitted. 649 wind and solar farms already have planning permission, enough to offset UK Russian gas imports. Compare to 10 years for new nuclear, eg Hinkley Point started 2018, due completed 2027, maybe later.
- Solar pv electricity. Time to deploy: days for a small installation to 3 months for a solar farm. Large solar is now subsidy-free and renewable electricity can displace gas use, lowering bills. Gas is used to generate a third of UK electricity, driving up electric bills. Solar on homes can give households free electricity. Compare to 3-28 years for a new gas/oil field.
- Heat Pumps: time to deploy: days, weeks/months if changes also made to plumbing or insulation. Heat Pumps generate 2-4 units of energy from 1 unit put in. They use electricity which can be zero carbon and can replace gas which generates 0.9 of a unit from 1 unit put into a boiler. Octopus Energy say 15% of UK homes “could have a heat pump today with zero change – with no more than £500 of change as you get to 34% of homes”.
Here’s a E3G chart (source blog with link to full paper)