Improving energy efficiency in buildings could save the UK £12bn each year according to the industry organisation behind proposals for a new 'Cost Effective Energy Measures Bill'.
The proposals for the bill, which were launched last Wednesday, would require the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to draw up a national strategy to promote and accelerate the use of measures that prioritise building efficiency.
The Sustainable Energy Association (SEA), which has coordinated the work on the bill, says the resulting departmental White Paper should take account of all the costs and benefits stemming from the full range of technologies that can help meet the country's energy needs.
It warns current energy policy is overly focused on energy generation from large power stations, which are often a long way distant from where the energy produced is consumed. Consequently, it accuses government of overlooking a range of local level energy measures that can make huge contributions to reducing emissions and meeting energy demand, while creating jobs, improving energy security, lifting people out of fuel poverty and ultimately saving the UK large sums of money.
"Our research, based on government figures and HM Treasury Methodology, shows that energy saving and energy produced from buildings costs far less than large scale energy generation - yet it is not given sufficient priority in current energy strategy," said Dave Sowden, SEA chief executive. "A more buildings-focused approach to energy could save the UK £12bn per year."
Separate research by the UK Green Building Council (GBC) has found measures to cut household energy use, such as insulating homes and retrofitting boilers, are the most cost-effective way to bring down energy bills and meet national carbon emissions targets.
The SEA argues a national programme to make buildings more efficient would also increase annual GDP by almost £14bn by 2030, while creating around 108,000 jobs in each of the prior 10 years. These economic benefits would see the government recoup £1.27 for every £1 it puts in, ensuring the programme pays for itself by 2024, generating revenue thereafter.
The report also details how while large scale power generation costs on average £108 per megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced, low carbon and renewable energy from buildings costs on average £91/MWh and energy saving methods actually contribute £9/MWh - calculating that a strategy relying on energy from buildings would save the country around £12bn annually.
Meanwhile, addressing cold homes could help reduce the £22bn the NHS spends on cold-related illness and the 100,000 premature deaths linked to living in cold houses.
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This article has been adapted from an article published in Business Green.