Tag Archives: Energy efficiency

Why home energy improvements are a natural fit for conservative values

Aerial View of UK HousesThis post is by Sam Hall, senior researcher at Bright Blue and author of Green conservatives? Understanding what conservatives think about the environment

From the great housebuilding programme of Harold MacMillan in the 1950s to Anthony Eden’s and Margaret Thatcher’s championing of a property owning democracy, conservatives intuitively value the home. It embodies and animates central conservative ideas of personal responsibility, family and aspiration.

Home energy improvements should be a natural fit for this vision. After all, they are a renovation that adds value to a property, increases its comfort levels and reduces its running costs. And attractive and innovative consumer products like solar photovoltaics, smart meters and battery storage enable households to take responsibility for their home’s energy and environmental impact.

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Can energy efficiency deliver on its promises?

Glowing lightbulb illuminating other onesThis post is by Paul Brockway, research fellow at the University of Leeds. He examines roles and relationships between energy, economy and society  as part of UKERC’s research programme.

Energy efficiency is often seen as a win-win: falling energy use benefits consumers and the environment, whilst it also allows the economy to grow. However, our recent research into energy rebound or ‘take back’ (when energy efficiency can be cancelled out by changes in people’s behaviour) suggests it may hamper the effectiveness of policy aimed at reducing energy use and its associated carbon emissions. Read more

Why aren’t we tackling energy efficiency in buildings when it’s so simple to solve?

5905213394_77ab6664ca_z.jpgThis post is by Andy Ford, director of the Centre for Efficient and Renewable Energy in Buildings (CEREB) at London South Bank University and Bruce Tofield, associate consultant with the Adapt Low Carbon Group at the Passivhaus Enterprise Centre, University of East Anglia.

What’s the easiest thing that we could do to reduce energy use, tackle climate change and make life healthier, more affordable and more comfortable for millions of people in the UK; something that will also promote higher productivity, quality and skills?

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What a certain old lady can teach us about energy policy

387px-there-was-an-old-lady-who-swallowed-a-fly-miss-kaulback-38317Do you remember the old lady who swallowed a fly? Her chosen remedy – to swallow a spider in hope of catching the fly – unfortunately made things worse: said spider wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her. She dealt with this unintended consequence by swallowing a bird, which didn’t help either. Bird led to cat led to dog, goat and then cow (I don’t know how). The sad denouement came when she swallowed a horse, and died. Of course.

The British electricity system is starting to look worryingly like that poor old lady. The government, dissatisfied with what the markets are delivering, is proposing modification after modification, in the hope that one day the ‘neutral’ market will deliver the government’s ever more obvious technology preferences. It looks as if our energy policy designers have forgotten their nursery rhymes.

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Why Big Energy Saving Week didn’t save much energy

StromzählerThis post is by Dustin Benton and Amy Mount.

After a summer of wiping the slate clean, the one remaining certainty about the government’s attitude to UK energy policy is that it is committed to minimising cost. This was the aim behind last week’s Big Energy Saving Week, the core ‘switch and save’ message being that customers can save money by switching suppliers. This was odd, given that switching has nothing to do with saving energy.

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How cheaper negawatts are made to look more expensive than watts

Negawatts_websiteThis post is by Nic Craig, Green Alliance policy intern, Amy Mount and Dustin Benton

The capacity market, which provides payments to ‘keep the lights on’, is one of the energy policies still surviving after a summer of scrappages and watering down. The bidders for the second auction were announced at the end of last week, and, as before, the list is dominated by carbon heavy power stations: 48 per cent gas plants and 19 per cent coal plants (including Aberthaw, which raises the worrying prospect of public money supporting a power station that’s currently breaking pollution laws). Read more

How to make high rise homes fit for the future

Wilmcote house new balconyThis post is by James Traynor, director of architecture at ECD Architects.

Is it right that people live in homes they can’t afford to heat without taking out a loan, and which cause them health problems from excessive humidity and mould? Why is the UK’s housing stock in such poor condition and how can it be improved to meet the needs of both current and future generations? Above all, what are the implications of a failure to act? Read more

Why old tower blocks should be included in new city visions

Block towers in Kennogton Park, London.UK cities have been growing in influence for some years now. This looks set to continue as the devolution debate rumbles on in the wake of the Scottish referendum.

At Green Alliance we’re interested in the potential of cities to add dynamism to the low carbon economy. They are well placed to realise the tangible benefits: through public transport improvements, growing low carbon industries and green jobs, and developing sustainable, liveable communities. Read more

Big manifesto ideas: responsible pensions, help to heat and a resource target

Big Ben in LondonWith the 2015 general election on the horizon, we’ve asked leading thinkers and experts for their one big manifesto idea. The one they think will make a real difference to a greener Britain. Today we’re posting ideas 13,14 and 15. (Read the other twelve.)

These three proposals, including one of our own, would harness the power of pension funds, boost support for the fuel poor and steer industrial strategy to help businesses and reduce the cost of living. Read more

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