Fracking debate is distracting public from energy efficiency, poll finds

by ClickGreen staff. Published Mon 21 Oct 2013 00:00, Last updated: 2013-10-21
Energy efficiency should be the clear message
Energy efficiency should be the clear message

Public debates such as fracking for shale gas is distracting the nation from focusing on energy efficiency, according to new research from the Energy Saving Trust.

The findings of the new poll also reveal one in four households are worried about how the UK will generate enough energy in just FIVE years’ time.

The survey of over 2,000 adults – commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust and undertaken by IPSOS Mori to mark Energy Saving Week 2013 – discovered 26 per cent think it will be difficult to supply enough energy to meet the UK’s needs by 2018.

More than half (52 per cent) said they would reduce their energy use if it meant guaranteeing the UK had enough energy to meet its needs in the future, while around the same amount had looked at ways to reduce their energy use after hearing or reading about rising energy bills.

Other ‘big picture’ energy issues, however, are less likely to prompt people to want to save energy, the survey found. Only around one in five looked at ways to reduce their energy use after hearing or reading about fracking (18 per cent) or wind farms (20 per cent).

Philip Sellwood, chief executive, Energy Saving Trust, said: “People are bamboozled by big debates leading to mixed-messaging on energy issues like fracking, rising bills, energy demand and wind turbines.

“On the one hand, fear around UK energy supply and rising bills is making people want to take action at home and reduce the amount of energy they use, but on the other hand debates on issues like fracking and wind turbines appear to be distracting the public from making meaningful energy efficiency upgrades which could save them even more money.

“While the big picture issues are an important part of the overall debate, we’ve got to focus on the things that strike a chord with people: saving money and guaranteeing we have enough energy for the future. Get these things right and people will take action at home.

“Pound for pound, using less energy in the first place is by far and away the most cost-effective thing to do and should be the UK’s number one priority.”

Big energy issues have dominated the media in 2013, with 79 per cent of those questioned by the Energy Saving Trust saying they were aware of rising energy bills, 76 per cent of fracking and 55 per cent of wind farms.

Public demand for energy efficiency measures in the home is higher than a year ago. According to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), a million more properties had loft insulation, 460,000 more had cavity wall insulation and 65,000 more had solid wall insulation.

However, there still plenty of opportunities for UK households to make their homes more energy efficient. UK housing stock figures show around half of homes – 13.5 million homes – still don’t have any form of wall insulation.

To mark Energy Saving Week, the Energy Saving Trust has produced ten top tips for homeowners saying how they can make their home more energy efficient. These vary from making low-cost behavioural changes in the home to more expensive but higher reward energy measures like wall insulation.

Sellwood added: “Through Energy Saving Week we’re continuing to encourage households to look at their home and see what they can do improve its energy efficiency in time for winter.

“The higher-cost measures, such as wall insulation, have higher long-term rewards for homeowners, but even small changes around the home – like fitting draught excluders – can make a big difference to energy bills and comfort levels.”

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