Electricians hold the key to greater energy efficiency

By Thomas Belaisch, vice president of partner retail UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric


nergy efficiency is at the top of the agenda for many of us – and rightly

so. According to the latest research from Schneider Electric, there are currently 10 million Brits with no intention of reducing their energy usage. That’s a staggering 16 per cent of UK households in total. What’s more, as many as 74 per cent of respondents cite they believe they are already making enough changes to their energy usage. However, it has never been easier to transform how we consume energy for the better. This is where electricians and contractors can make a big difference. Steering consumers towards smart technologies and practices will help us all be more environmentally and cost conscious.

THE OPPORTUNITY Europe is taking enormous strides to develop new ways of generating, transmitting and consuming energy. These range from smart grids crisscrossing the continent, to massive investments in alternative or renewable power. By 2050, for example, more than 70 per cent of all new power generation is expected to be renewable, as each country taps into its own unique mixture natural resources. These range from wind power on Europe’s coasts, to hydro in the mountains and fjords, to geothermal and solar in other regions.

28 FEBRUARY 2019 | ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING What’s so exciting about these

developments is that they promise to give us a higher degree of energy self- sufficiency. The unpredictability of many renewable energy sources, however, requires investment in smart grids which can balance available power supplies to demand across the continent. The great challenges facing the planet

have been traditionally seen as the responsibility of government. However, it is the individual consumer who is key. We all have an important role to play that goes far beyond reducing our personal usage. Schneider Electric found that 77 million lights, devices and energy- intensive applications are left either on, or on standby, every day across the UK. Clearly, there’s much important work we can all still do here. Beyond re-learning how to find the off-switch and switching to low- energy appliances and lighting, ordinary consumers should be encouraged to adopt smart metering. This is crucial for giving operators the data they need to balance their networks and mitigate the unpredictability of renewable resources. In doing so, they will play a crucial part in achieving the country’s wider energy goals, while also helping to cut their own power consumption and bills.

GOING GREENER In the face of such wide-ranging, supranational issues, what role does the electrician or contractor have to play in helping consumers go green? There is a genuine, pressing concern for the environment in the UK. Schneider Electric research found that over a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents say that they would make the environment their number one priority for government spending. When it comes to actually making changes in our behaviour, however, it’s money that is the great motivator. More than half (56 per cent) cite rising energy costs as the primary motivation for reducing energy consumption, compared to just 25 per cent who said it was the desire to preserve the planet for future generations. Here lies the opportunity for electricians and contractors to convince people about the benefits of going greener. Firstly, electricians can expertly demonstrate and deliver the money-saving benefits of these technologies and techniques. Smart meters, for example, enable

consumers to enroll in automated demand response programmes, which allow them to sell any electricity they store back to the grid at times of peak demand. Smart heating systems, including Schneider Electric’s Wiser Heat, also give consumers more granular control over their heating. They will be able to regulate thermostats room by room as needed, helping them save money and cut down on energy waste. On the macro scale, meanwhile, they

will be playing an important role in popularising the technologies on which utilities providers, grid operators and even governments are basing their strategy. Services such as automated demand response – crucial for balancing energy networks and ensuring that renewable energy can be delivered predictably – depend on real-time insight from hundreds of millions of connected smart meters. We need to become more energy

efficient than ever before. Electricians are perfectly placed to showcase the benefits small changes can have on a household’s overall energy usage and spend. We’re all responsible for going greener – but, a little bit of help goes a long way.

Schneider Electric


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