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The installation of measures to help households cut their energy use has crashed in the last year, a campaign group has warned. The number of measures installed collapsed by 60% in 2013, from 1.65 million to 661,000, according to the Energy Bill Revolution campaign. It warned that the installation of measures, which include cavity wall, solid wall and loft insulation and new boilers, could fall even further over the next year, by as much as another quarter.
As many as 13 million households do not have energy saving condensing boilers, five million could still benefit from cavity wall insulation and 7.5 million need loft insulation. The Energy Bill Revolution and the Association for the Conservation of Energy, which conducted the research, warned that the fall is down to flaws in the government’s initiatives such as the Green Deal loan programme, which provides loans to households for installing energy saving measures.
American electricity providers have tripled their spending on energy efficiency programs since 2006, the piece reports, and spending on efficiency technologies and programs reached the value of $250 billion worldwide in 2013. According to the International Energy Agency, which compiles the numbers, spending could hit as much as $500 billion by the end of 2035. The flurry of activity not only involves new technology and efficiency upgrades, but an enormous growth in the use of data by power providers and other firms to profile customers’ energy use to recommend savings and improvements.
Google Inc. dropped $3.2 billion this year to purchase Nest, a company which designs high-tech thermostats that predict their owners needs, for example, precooking a home before the owners return from work. That allows utilities like Southern California Edison to smooth out load on the grid, moderating the big spikes in electricity demand that usually occur in the evenings. Meanwhile, data-mining companies like FirstFuel can pull thousands of data points from a home-or-business owners’ smart meter, check that against other information like weather history, and provide the customer with an extensive energy-use profile that comes with all sorts of suggestions for improving efficiency, all without an auditor ever setting foot on the property.
All six million low income homes should be raised to a decent level of energy efficiency, judged as scoring a C grade on their energy performance certificate (EPC), by the end of 2025, which would require more than trebling the number of measures being installed each year, the group said. Extra costs should not be put on consumer bills, but revenue from carbon taxes levied on generators for the pollution they created should be used to provide long-term funding for energy efficiency, the campaign group added. Long overshadowed by wind turbines, solar panels and other fashionable machines of renewable power, energy efficiency has lately become a hot pursuit for tech entrepreneurs, big-data enthusiasts and Wall Street speculators.
They have leveraged multibillion-dollar programs in several states, led by California and Massachusetts, to cultivate a booming industry. This onetime realm of scolds, do-gooders and bureaucrats has become the stuff of TED talks, IPOs and spirited privacy debates. The number of energy efficiency measures installed under national programmes fell 60% in the past year, down from a peak of 1.65 million in 2012/13 to 661,000 in 2013/14, research commissioned by the Energy Bill Revolution campaign showed. According to the study and thorough report by the Association for the Conservation of Energy, the number of energy efficiency measures, which include cavity wall, solid wall and loft insulation and new boilers, was set to fall again by nearly a quarter (23%) in 2014, to 507,000. It would see installation rates at their lowest level for more than a decade.