Cutting waste is the cheapest form of energy

I am sure that many of us are still going over the Chancellor’s detailed plans for the economy announced in the October spending review, but some points are already clear.

There have been a number of changes to the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. The first allowance sales for 2011/12 emissions will now take place in 2012 not in 2011 as originally planned. Perhaps more significantly, revenue raised from the CRC scheme will now not be recycled to participating organisations. Instead, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has stated: “Revenue raised from the CRC will be used to support the public finances, including spending on the environment.”

Just how this programme will work has yet to be explained, but it does seem that the CRC is set to lose its incentive element and become more of a carbon tax instead. The incentive element would have been a great help in encouraging commercial and public sector organisations to increase energy efficiency. However, there is no getting away from the fact that the less an organisation has to pay out the better, so there will still be a strong driver to be more energy efficient.

In spite of the cuts, the government has retained its commitments to renewable energies as far as possible; the Green Investment Bank will receive £1 billion in funding although this is only half of what was originally planned and wind power will see £200 million in government subsidies.

The BCIA certainly supports the use of renewable energy sources, where appropriate, but we feel that controls technology offers outstanding energy and carbon savings. Building controls also work regardless of the energy generation method. They can be used on new and existing buildings at a reasonable cost, and with a potentially quick payback.

One of the challenges for controls is that they are often hidden energy savers – tucked away in plant rooms, behind walls or within other equipment. Every organisation in the UK is looking for ways to save money, and they could do a lot worse than turn to their building controls to help reduce energy bills.

Checking that the existing system is operating correctly is a first step. This includes simple procedures such as ensuring that controls aren’t in ‘manual override’ mode; or taking a look at time clocks (is your heating running unnecessarily at weekends?). A walk-around approach could find some quick-wins that will mean money that is being wasted on unnecessary energy could go straight back onto your bottom line.

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