Plumb Center has brought together policy makers, senior civil servants, think tank representatives, academics and industry experts to discuss how to encourage the UK public to invest in energy efficiency measures.
The round table event was hosted by Chris White MP at the House of Commons in early September and was attended by a number of politicians including Shadow Climate Change Minister, Luciana Berger MP, Laura Sandys MP, Private Parliamentary Secretary to Greg Barker MP and Peter Aldous MP who is a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee.
After an introduction by Liz Owen, deputy director and head of customer insight (DECC), the lively discussion focused on consumer behaviour, with regard to energy efficiency, and whether it can be influenced to encourage a far wider take up. The key role heating engineers and installers play in educating and encouraging homeowners to invest in energy efficiency measures was also a hot topic of discussion.
The debate also looked at whether it is advances in technology that drive changes in behaviour when it comes to being more energy efficient or whether increasing fuel prices are forcing people to use their energy more wisely.
Another interesting aspect of the discussion was the role energy companies should play by making energy bills clearer and by structuring tariffs to encourage efficiency rather than the current ‘the more you use the cheaper it gets’ approach.
The energy footprint in a typical existing property shows that around 75% of all energy used is consumed in heating and providing hot water. While a BBC Radio 5 Live survey published on 5 September 2013 found 25% of people had put up with "unacceptably cold" homes in the past year as they struggle to pay bills.
Simon Allan, renewables director, Plumb Center, who chaired the round table, said: “We recognise that there is significant potential to save large amounts of energy by changing the way we all use energy in the home. Yet, despite many positive initiatives not enough has been done to encourage consumers to change their habits and consider making energy efficient improvements to their homes.
“In hosting this round table, we have provided a forum for the government, parliamentarians and industry to come together to discuss and inform the process and look at alternative ways to approach the problem. It was an interesting discussion which looked at a number of options but also raised lots of questions and differing points of view.”
Other attendees included Lord Whitty, Tim Pollard (Plumb Center), Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas), David Frise (Building and Engineering Assoc.), Peter Farrand and Patrick Allcorn (DECC), Dr Luca Panzone (University of Manchester), Nicolette Fox (University of Sussex) and Christina Stejskalova (Behavioural Insights Team, Cabinet Office).