Guest post by Simon Colley
The UK Department Of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) recently published results from its first ‘Public Attitudes Tracking Survey’, which will run 4 times a year and has been set up to understand and monitor the public’s views on the department’s main business priorities, which are –
- Save energy with the Green Deal and support vulnerable consumers
- Deliver secure energy on the way to a low carbon energy future
- Drive ambitious action on climate change at home and abroad
- Manage energy legacy responsibly and cost-effectively
Whilst overall there was significant support for the country to grow its mix of renewable energy sources to provide electricity, heat and fuel, the survey also highlighted a surprisingly low public awareness of renewable heat technologies and smart meters.
The survey was conducted in March 2012 through a series of face-to-face interviews with 2,121 UK households. Of those respondents almost half (47%) had not heard of air source heat pumps, with similar results for the other renewable heat technologies such as ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers. Whilst the Government is proactively operating schemes like the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) which targets the domestic sector to incentivise home owners to consider installing renewable heat technologies, clearly the awareness of these technologies and scheme is not having the far reaching impact as planned.
Another cause for concern is the distinct lack of awareness of smart meters and IHDs (in-house display units), with 53 percent of participants having not even heard about them. Considering the Government is planning to start rolling out smart meters to all UK homes from 2014, there’s a lot more work to be done by the Government and the various energy companies that operate in the UK to educate home owners on this new technology.
Raising awareness of the benefits of smart meters and IHDs could make a real difference to energy use in the home. For example, whilst those people taking part in the survey said they think about saving energy in the home, many stated they were not following through with simple actions such as boiling a kettle with only the required amount of water, turning lights off when not in a room, leaving the heating on for a few hours when not at home, reducing the temperature of heat in rooms not being used, as well as washing clothes at a temperature of 30 degrees or lower.
It’s an obvious statement to make but the opportunities these new technologies bring to help reduce our CO2 emissions and energy bills are enormous and the more people know about them the greater the impact.