Theoretical or real world – what data would you use and does it matter?

14th Aug 2017


A few weeks ago I warned the industry against over-inflated claims about energy efficiency savings. As a “recovering politician...

Which brings me to the debate over real-world or theoretical savings and the discussion I have been having with an energy savings advisory body. Let me explain the dilemma. Ofgem, the regulator, last week published its analysis of “Typical Domestic Consumption Values”, which they advise people use – and I’m with them on this. For gas, Ofgem claim the average use is 12,000 kWh per annum. So in my view, savings should be based around this “average” consumption, when aimed at the “average” consumer.

BEIS, the Government department, published its “National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework” in July. This shows the real-world impact of energy efficiency improvements, such as solid wall and cavity wall insulation. For example, NEED calculate that solid wall insulation saves 14 per cent of energy, about 1700 kWh (based on the average demand) – worth about £70 a year to the consumer.

The energy savings body uses a higher annual usage – 18,000 kWh (yes 50 per cent more) for a semi-detached house and claims a theoretical saving of 27 per cent (yes that’s double real-world) giving a consumer saving of nearly £200 a year.

So who’s right? Both could be. But let me play devil’s advocate. If you are giving out energy savings advice, which is taken, imagine how angry the recipient would be if the savings they thought would come their way, don’t. Policy makers deserve better too, so that their decisions are likely to result in better outcomes.

If asked for advice on this dilemma, I’d go back to my instincts – use real-world data; use official data; under-promise and over-deliver – now is not the time for the energy industry to engage in “Del Boy” sales tactics.