Call for continued policy support for energy efficiency as review finds savings of up to 10%

04 Jun 2015

New study will shed light on what works, where the gaps are, and future priorities for researchers and policy makers

Research for the UK Energy Research Centre’s Technology and Policy Assessment (TPA) function shows the importance of increased policy support for energy efficiency programmes, after a [strategic review] found savings in the region of 10% for well designed and implemented programmes.

While multiple policies and programmes have been implemented in the past to encourage improvements in household efficiency, both in the UK and globally, the robustness and accuracy of programme evaluations have been called into question. The authors carried out a systematic review of the evidence base of peer-reviewed evaluation programmes, drawn from conference papers and 20 different journals, in order to find out what works and where the gaps are, and to inform future programme design.

The review appears at a timely moment for energy efficiency in the UK. Policy in the UK has been weakened, with improvements stalling. But this looks set to change, with all major parties committing to energy efficiency measures in their election manifestos and, at a global level, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, announcing plans to spend more on energy efficiency.

The authors find savings in the region of 10% of total household energy use from well-established programmes such as minimum energy efficiency standards for buildings, incentives to encourage consumers to buy more energy efficient appliances, and investment and refurbishment programmes. But questions remain about the outcomes of information and advice schemes, community-led and behaviour change initiatives, and innovative finance programmes.

A professional evaluation community is developing in Europe to match that in North America, but publishes largely in the ‘grey’ (ie non peer-reviewed) literature, including in languages other than English. Future evaluations should make greater use of both randomised controlled trials, and the large datasets derived from EPCs and smart metering which are now becoming available.

Policymakers are advised to continue to support energy efficiency policies and programmes, which are likely to continue to offer a cost-effective route to achieving energy policy objectives. There should be a focus, at least in the short term, on well established approaches, such as building standards and incentive programmes, and new approaches should be properly piloted and evaluated before they are given the green light to replace other measures.

For further information, or to interview the report authors, please contact Lindsay Wright, Policy Engagement Manager at the UK Energy Research Centre on 00 44 (0) 207 594 1573, lindsay.wright@ukerc.ac.uk.

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Energy Efficiency Evaluation: the evidence for real energy savings from energy efficiency programmes in the household sector

Joanne Wade and Nick Eyre