This free course, Energy in buildings, has described a wealth of opportunities for saving energy in domestic buildings. The bulk of this potential lies in heat energy savings through the large-scale application of very ordinary technologies: thicker insulation, double- or triple- glazing and condensing gas boilers.
To achieve large CO2 emissions cuts from the UK building stock we will need further steps. The existing building stock will certainly need further insulation. It may also include digging up the streets to distribute waste heat from power stations to most city-centre buildings and the deployment of millions of electric heat pumps.
The technical potential for cutting electricity use is enormous. The promotion of low-energy refrigerators and lighting has been reducing domestic energy demand since the 1990s. Yet it does seem an uphill struggle against a tide of new electronic devices that are designed to be attractive and convenient rather than energy efficient.
Most importantly, we live in a culture where the provision of energy services, i.e. buildings that are warm in winter and adequately lit, has been seen largely as a matter of supplying cheap gas and electricity. The needs of facing up to climate change and diminishing North Sea gas supplies will require changing attitudes to energy saving.
Further information on low energy housing and saving energy in the home can be found at the following web sites (all accessed 7 June 2023):
Association of Environment Conscious Builders (AECB)
Building Research Establishment (BRE) https://bregroup.com
Centre for Alternative Technology https://cat.org.uk
Energy Saving Trust https://energysavingtrust.org.uk
National Energy Foundation https://nef.org.uk
Passivhaus Trust https://www.passivhaustrust.org.uk/