The Opinion page of The Independent on 23 May 2012 said that ‘improving energy efficiency levels [in homes] would be the fastest and cheapest way to bring down bills and carbon emissions’. Not true. Yes, this would be cheaper and faster than new nuclear generating capacity (which The Independent supports), offshore wind power, or new coal with carbon capture. These are all unquestionably high-cost infrastructure projects that will take years to deliver any savings worth shouting about.
However, our modelling work – based on the most comprehensive survey of english homes and the most rigorously-tested building physics algorithms – shows clearly that faster, cheaper savings would come from behaviour change. If households turn down thermostats, cut the number of months they keep heating on, are thrifty in their use of hot water, and avoid heating unused rooms, this brings bigger savings than any of the low-cost energy efficiency improvements.
The savings are cost-free, and come as soon as you can flick a switch.
Jason Palmer, 25 May 2012