UK productivity rose by £1.7 billion between 2010 and 2015 thanks to energy efficiency, according to new analysis, while businesses could save a further £1.3 billion by improving their buildings.
The 2016 UK Energy Productivity Audit shows the impressive impact of energy efficiency investments in the industrial, services and domestic sectors on the UK economy.
Investments in these sectors over five years have saved 220,000 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy, enough to heat 13 million homes.
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The audit was jointly published by a coalition of nine organisations, led by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) alongside industrial manufacturers and environmental groups.
The analysis shows that better energy productivity - using less energy to do more - strengthens businesses’ competitiveness, helps boost overall productivity, improves energy security and can contribute to reducing the UK’s carbon emissions.
The coalition is using the results to call for stronger energy efficiency policies from the government across all sectors of the economy, particularly in the power sector.
Meanwhile, separate figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show that businesses could save over 63,000GW of energy per year by improving the efficiency of their buildings - a 39 per cent reduction on current energy consumption.
The Building Energy Efficiency Survey (BEES), which looked at more than 1.5 million properties, shows that more than a third of the potential savings could be achieved through measures with a payback period of three years or less. These measures alone could save £1.3 billion a year.
According to the survey, the highest consuming areas in non-domestic buildings are space heating, internal lighting, catering and cooled storage.
The measures with the biggest potential for savings include lighting replacement and controls, building energy management controls and insulation.
SMEs in particular reported significant barriers to making improvements to their buildings, citing organisational barriers such as complex decision chains and “inertia”, and difficulties identifying what measures to implement.
As a result, the government is now seeking views on how to help reduce the consumption of heat and energy in commercial and industrial buildings, ahead of setting out new policies to address the issue.
The consultation is open until 27 January 2017.
SMEs in Greater Manchester can access fully-funded support to improve their energy efficiency from the Business Growth Hub - click here for more information.