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Lords tell government: ‘Clear up the energy efficiency muddle’

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A House of Lords report launched last Friday urges the government to resolve the uncertainty and confusion that are undermining its attempts to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Baroness Perry of Southwark, who chaired the inquiry, said: “The government has to get a grip on our huge waste of energy if it is to limit the UK's contribution to climate change. At the moment, it simply doesn't have a coherent policy on energy efficiency. There are far too many departments, agencies and policies, often pulling in different directions.

“No country in the world has succeeded in combining a sustained reduction in energy use with economic growth and UK energy demand is still rising. Achieving the government's targets is a huge task and needs clearer thinking and stronger leadership.”

The report calls for:

1) Better governance-
• Appoint a single energy minister with responsibility for both the energy supply industry and energy efficiency
• Reduce the number of agencies in the field by merging the Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust
• Give local government the tools to develop local energy efficiency projects
• Adopt a coherent methodology to measure energy efficiency and its impact on energy demand and emissions
• Simplify the regulatory framework for business and industry

2) Improved building standards-
• Strengthen Building Regulations and enforce them more rigorously
• Address the acute skills shortage in the construction industry
• Reverse the dramatic fall in government funding for construction research

3) Changed behaviour-
• Give consumers access to real-time information on energy use and its costs
• Provide fiscal incentives to encourage efficient energy use
• Introduce a new pricing structure so that low energy users pay less per unit

4) Stronger markets for heat-
• Encourage inclusion of community heating in all new build projects
• Apply the 'energy services' model to community heating
• Promote the use of waste heat and of carbon-free heat such as biomass and solar thermal

5) Higher product standards-
• Ensure that the EU energy efficiency label is not watered down
• Raise EU energy efficiency standards to the levels that apply in North America and Japan
• Engage proactively with manufacturers to address the impact on energy use of growing markets for consumer electronics and air conditioning

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