The Energys July Horizon Scan; futureproofing business for better energy efficiency

The Guardian is reporting that the depth of fuel poverty blighting Britain’s poorest households is expected to worsen because of energy price rises this year.

The latest 2018 price hikes have piled further pressure on the Government’s promises to control costs from the major energy suppliers, some of which are believed to come from the financial burden of rolling out smart meters to enable the UK smart grid.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy forecasts that the fuel poverty gap will expand by 9%, up from £326 in 2016 to £357 in 2018.

The department said the growth would be mainly driven by increases in fuel prices. All the big six energy suppliers, and many of the newer challenger firms, have recently raised prices, blaming an increase in wholesale costs.

German supplier E.ON last week raised its prices for the second time this year. The proportion of households living in fuel poverty in 2016 rose for the second year in a row to 11.1%, or around 2.55m homes.

A Government business department spokesperson told the Guardian: “This government is driving £6bn into tackling the root cause of fuel poverty through energy efficiency upgrades installed in some of our poorest homes over the next 10 years.”

Plainly, such measures can only come as soon as possible. Energy efficiency represents the most available, cost effective way to tackle the issue.

Energys will track the problem, and report back on coming trends.

Energy efficiency scores fixed

In another alarming Guardian report, fears are rising that EPC ratings in the rented sector are being tampered with.

Since the start of April 2018, landlords have been prohibited from renting out sub standard properties that don’t meet minimum energy efficiency requirements.

But Guardian Money saw an example of a flat where the energy efficiency score appears to have been fraudulently changed to allow it to be advertised.

According to letting agent body Arla Propertymark, as many as 300,000 sub standard properties are out there today.

The elephant in the room, says The Guardian, is the exemption; under EPC rules, landlords of F and G rated properties are only required to make the necessary improvements where this can be done at no cost to themselves.

In other words, the ban doesn’t apply if the landlord has been unable to access third party funding.

“This situation is untenable,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys. “If it’s true that EPC in either the commercial, domestic sector, or both is being abused, Government must act.”

Carbon Budget under threat

Finally this month, the Energyst reveals more than eight in ten members of the Energy Institute (EI) think the UK will miss the fifth carbon budget, according to a poll of 406 members.

The EI’s annual barometer poll asks members for their views on key energy topics. It consistently calls for greater focus on energy efficiency to meet energy and climate goals, and this year was no different.

To make up the shortfall on the fifth carbon budget at lowest cost, 49% said government should prioritise energy efficiency, followed by supporting renewable electricity (32%) and decarbonising transport (31%).

The full findings from UK energy professionals are available here.

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Energys Group advises to act before EU Ecodesign lighting updates come into effect

Energys Group Managing Director urges energy, estates and building managers to “avoid delay” and act before EU Ecodesign lighting updates come into effect

Following recent reports that proposed updates to Europe’s Ecodesign laws “will see the effective banning of both tungsten halogen and compact fluorescent as light sources by 2020”, Kevin Cox Managing Director of Energys Group urges EMs/FMs/specifiers/ consultants to push ahead with planned lighting refurbishment as, “the longer they wait, the more they are going to lose.”

Kevin highlights the key factors that could lead to increased costs for customers over the next few years, “including the impact of Brexit on trade tariffs, the rising costs of luminaires, and the changing regulations, all of which could mean replacement costs of luminaires and lamps will be higher in the long term.”

However, rather than waiting until the increasing costs and waste of an ageing system become unsustainable, Kevin urges those responsible for looking after the lighting systems in commercial, industrial and public sector buildings, to take control of the situation sooner rather than later.

“Decision makers and specifiers should avoid delay before it results in a situation where they are unable to find replacement lamps or the costs of basic maintenance become unreasonable. If they seize the initiative by taking advantage of funding today, they will be achieve benefits and savings both in the short- and long-term.”

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June’s Energys Horizon Scan; taking the guessing out of energy efficiency

Mixed messages from the Government on energy efficiency

The Guardian has reported that Britain is seeking to use energy saving data outside its original dates, in order to count towards EU targets.

It writes: ‘Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show Britain is pushing for its 2014 to 2020 timeline to be stretched backwards 4 years, to count “early actions” taken that comply with the efficiency directive.’

Benedek Jávor, the Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, told the Guardian: “The UK’s proposal is completely mad and undermines the principle of additionality, as well as the overall ambition of the energy efficiency directive.”

The situation as it stands is opaque. A UK Government spokesperson said: “We are asking for clarity on certain energy savings between 2010 and 2013 and agreeing these for the 2020 target. This is not about applying these energy savings post-2020. To suggest otherwise is incorrect and we continue to advocate ambitious future targets.”

But, the British correspondence with the European council, dated 4 May and seen by The Guardian, proposes allowing EU states to count climate actions taken “in any of the four previous or three following years” towards the energy efficiency directive’s annual 1.5% energy savings obligations.

Any “excess energy savings” between 2014 and 2020 “may count towards the fulfilment of obligations between 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2030”, it says.

Energys will monitor the situation, and if necessary report back on changes. What is clear is that energy efficiency legislation must neither be undermined, nor misused.

Buildings sector welcomes clean growth boost

Theresa May has promised that Britain will use new technologies and modern construction practices to at least halve the energy usage of new buildings by 2030.

The pledge came in a speech on Industrial Strategy in May. The Prime Minister said: “By making our buildings more energy efficient and embracing smart technologies, we can slash household energy bills, reduce demand for energy, and meet our targets for carbon reduction.

“By halving the energy use of new buildings, both commercial and residential, we could reduce the energy bills for their occupants by as much as 50%.

“And we will aim to halve the costs of reaching the same standard in existing buildings too. It will be a catalyst for new technologies and more productive methods, which can be exported to a large and growing global market for clean technologies.”

“We very much welcome this development,” commented Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“It proves the ongoing shift to low carbon in buildings is both necessary and inevitable. Here at Energys, we stand ready to help the construction sector embed energy efficiency in the buildings of tomorrow.”

Green mortgages become reality

Borrowers will be able to take out a bigger mortgage when buying greener properties for the first time, under a pioneering scheme to encourage energy efficiency, writes The Guardian.

Research has found that factoring in the efficiency of a home into lenders’ affordability calculations could allow them to increase loans by £11,500 because buyers’ electricity and gas bills will be lower.

The new scheme will kick off in Wales; Welsh help-to-buy loans will take into account the energy rating of new-build homes worth up to £300,000.

“There is every chance that this scheme, if extended nationwide, could help improve energy efficiency uptake and offer more people homes,” comments Cox.

“We would also welcome further efficiency improvements in the commercial and public sectors, where powerful laws already exist on energy efficiency and the legality of rented property.”

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The Energys May Horizon Scan: helping futureproof green business

Efficiency in education

As the summer stretches ahead of us, we’ve spotted a welcome emphasis on how schools should be upping the ante on energy efficiency.

Education Executive is reporting that throughout the education sector, there’s an increasing awareness of the benefits of implementing a well-rounded energy efficiency plan.

Crucially, the journal notes that holistic planning is key to sustainable energy in schools.

It writes: ‘For example, many schools begin addressing their energy usage by installing LED lighting; however, a school taking a holistic approach may also consider whether they could install lighting sensors, energy management systems, new insulation, boilers and solar PV within the same project.

‘An added benefit to this approach, on top of the associated high energy savings, is that installing a number of projects at once helps save money on design, installation and labour costs, while also minimising disruption on site.’

This approach matches our experience at Energys, and is especially worthwhile when one considers that soon, the long summer holidays will be with us.

This is an ideal time when schools might consider energy efficiency solutions, with plenty of downtime to get the measures installed and signed off before pupils return to their studies.

A word on the smarter futures schools can imagine is welcome too; ‘Energy waste can also be reduced by updating energy control systems,’ writes the journal.

‘New smart technologies allow for more precise control, especially if combined with an energy management system. This gives schools the ability to quickly, easily and, often, automatically adjust their energy systems to meet their needs in real time.’

Homes efficiency under scrutiny

Less welcome is news that the domestic side of energy efficiency is taking a bash. The Telegraph reports the Government’s effort to bring down the cost of energy by upgrading Britain’s draughtiest homes is under attack, after it emerged that cuts to the scheme mean it would take 400 years to complete.

It seems that, under new plans, ministers intend to slash the pace at which the least efficient households will receive insulation upgrades. Better heat conservation can knock hundreds of pounds a year off electricity and gas bills.

A spokesman for E.On UK, a big six energy supplier, said: “Overall, as a country we need to bring the energy efficiency of homes up to the level that is right for the 21st century, and which could save many hundreds of pounds off the annual energy bill.”

At Energys, we deal with commercial energy efficiency, but that doesn’t mean we take our eyes off the domestic sector. Price caps seem to have taken centre stage here, perhaps at a cost to efficiency.

A refocusing of policy to get Britain’s homes using less heat and electricity would be most welcome.

Can the UK reach net zero emissions by 2050?

The Guardian examines how fit the UK is to truly lead the world on low carbon.

It writes; “More wind farms, solar power and electric cars: these are likely to be the future of the UK, under government plans announced this week to seek a zero-carbon economy in the next 30 years.”

It appears that last month, Government Minister Claire Perry made the surprise announcement that she would ask the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s statutory advisers on climate change, to consider ways the UK could become “net zero-carbon” by 2050.

The commitment was widely interpreted, says The Guardian, as laying the groundwork for a major change to the UK’s long-term climate policy. Currently, ministers are pledged to cutting emissions by 80% by 2050.
And efficiency could play a major role. Dustin Benton, Policy Director at Green Alliance, told the paper; “The government would have to bring forward new measures as a matter of urgency.

“The government has made real progress on some issues, such as diesel cars and offshore wind, but there are glaring holes in areas such as energy efficiency and onshore renewables.”

We will keep an eye on this story, and alert you to any changes. Any re-examination of UK climate policy must deliver energy efficiency as a key player.

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NHS boards under increased scrutiny on sustainability and transformation of the service

Powerful Parliamentary committee adds weight to calls for Trusts to stop “raiding” infrastructure budgets to fund running costs

The Committee of Public Accounts is appointed by the House of Commons to examine “the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public expenditure, and of such other accounts laid before Parliament as the committee may think fit” (Standing Order No.148).

As such it holds a powerful oversight brief on all aspects of government spending and regularly meets with government ministers and NHS officials, as well as those from other departments.

Its most recent report into ‘Sustainability and transformation in the NHS’ has been released and has laid out, in harsh terms, its criticism of the financial status of the NHS.

It states that, “Despite a rescue fund worth £1.8 billion in 2016–17, the financial position of the NHS remains in a perilous state. The NHS is still very much in survival mode, with budgets unable to keep pace with demand. The Department of Health and Social Care (the Department), NHS England and NHS Improvement are too focused on propping up the system and balancing the books in the short term and have not paid enough attention on transforming and improving patient services in the long term.”

Indeed, the Committee goes on to say, “We are disappointed that the Department’s lack of action means we have to repeat some of the same messages as our previous reports on the dangers of short-term measures used to balance the NHS budget and the risks of raiding investment funds to meet day-to-day spending. Despite our earlier warnings, the Department has not yet assessed the impact on patients or services of repeatedly raiding its capital budget to fund the short-term needs of the NHS.”

Energys Group Managing Director, Kevin Cox says, “While it is acknowledged there is important work going on by individual trusts, to develop low-carbon measures and make considerable savings that will positively impact the financial sustainability of the NHS, more work must be done by the industry to support trusts right across the service.

“There is no doubt that estates managers, financial managers and CEOs of trusts have a huge burden of responsibility to their patients and staff, especially when it comes to ensuring the financial viability of the service they provide. The answers they need are not always immediately obvious and this is where the commercial agility and specialist knowledge of suppliers such as Energys Group, can help them deliver smart estate-wide savings on projects of various sizes.

“Energys works with leading manufacturers of energy-efficient technologies across the lighting, heating and controls sectors, consulting, specifying and designing bespoke systems for public-sector projects across the UK. Energys has proven its ability to help organisations significantly reduce carbon emissions, on projects of varying sizes, estate-wide and to achieve significant ROI within specified time-limits.”

Talk to the Energys team today about how they can help you achieve significant savings across your estates 01403 786 212.

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