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The Energy Bill- a missed opportunity?

As winter fast approaches the spectre of higher bills means that many businesses are actively looking to reduce their energy consumption. Indeed, research by British Gas has identified that gas usage increases by 63% from autumn to winter for office based companies. If businesses manage to cut energy consumption then they will not only save money but they will enhance their reputations by helping to save the planet.

Through its new Energy Bill the government plans to reward companies which manage to reduce energy consumption. Indeed the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, has said that the new bill heralds," the biggest transformation to Britain's electricity market since privatisation". However some M.P.s such as Tim Yeo, the Conservative chair of the parliamentary Environmental Committee, are frustrated by the missed opportunity to set targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill's aim is to lower the UK's dependence on fossil fuels for energy. It hopes to promote the use of renewable energy coupled with an expansion of nuclear power to plug the gap when old coal- fired power stations close. Many of these old power stations are scheduled to close in the next 20 years so it is vital that other power sources are in place by that time.

Many feel that by looking at replacing fossil fuels with other sources of energy misses the point and that we should instead be looking at ways of reducing the energy we use. Many people are disappointed that the new bill has added potential energy saving plans as a consultation document and not as part of the main bill. Ideas such as incentivising businesses who reduce their energy consumption, improving access to information on energy saving and making energy reduction an integral part of building standards could all have had a major impact on the UK's carbon footprint. It is also felt that many companies will be put off taking any action by the perceived additional costs of switching to renewables.

The government is considering shielding certain energy- intensive industries from subsidising these developments. It is however estimated that the cost of energy efficiency measures will add £95 to household bills by 2020 at a time when people are already struggling to pay their energy bills.

It is believed that industry in the UK has the potential to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Indeed, if all factories switched to low energy lighting from the more traditional forms of lighting then it would enable the closure of Drax power station, which is one of the U.K.'s  biggest polluters. Many systems are currently available to help reduce energy use. Low- energy lights are one option as they are up to 80% cheaper to run. Another option is the installation of monitors and motor controllers which can monitor demand 100 times per second in order to calculate the exact amount of energy required at any one time. The energy can then be adjusted accordingly eliminating potential waste. It has been estimated that lighting accounts for 25% of business costs so, simply by installing LED lighting, businesses can save 70% or more on energy with the added advantage of low maintenance costs as these lights last much longer than traditional lighting.

The importance of getting the workforce involved in saving energy cannot be underestimated. Clear labelling of switches coupled with the use of timers and/ or motion sensors on lights can also have a real impact on energy saving. Indeed, any business serious about lowering its energy consumption should seriously consider employing an expert to perform an energy audit to identify areas where savings could be made. Here at Th!nk Energy in Yorkshire we have been involved in helping our customers save on their energy bills for many years. We have the expertise to identify areas where your home or business can save energy and money and we can also advise on renewable energy options.

The new energy bill has brought this subject to the fore and although many people have been disappointed by the focus on renewable energy to the detriment of energy saving it is good that as a country we are facing up to the fact that our reliance on fossil fuels must change as must our expectation to have an unlimited amount of cheap energy available.
As the Climate Change minister has commented,"The cheapest form of energy is the energy that you don't use."
This makes it all the more puzzling that the energy saving measures which could have been added to this bill were only added in the form of a consultation document!