Attitudes Towards Energy Efficiency

The majority of the work I do relates to renewable energy’s less attractive, more financially sensitive brother, energy efficiency. Attitudes towards Energy Efficiency is an interesting topic (well I think). Energy Efficiency is about achieving goals, using less energy… Simple as that. So the ways that can be done is

  • Equipment that uses less energy (a technical solution)CFL bulbs, putting in insulation etc
  • Using Equipment for less time (a control solution)Sensors and timers
  • Reducing the quality of service required from equipment to a more appropriate level (an engineering solution) – Turning down the heating

Now the way people see these things is quite different, but truth is, the type of efficiency that dominates peoples views… is the last one. And people associate a reduction in the quality of service they get… with being poor. People associate having their houses really warm, really well lit, driving big cars, having double size fridges… all that… with affluence. And people like to project affluence.

So… that’s why I’m particularly interested in a proposal I heard the other day. At the moment Irish Cars registrations plates are of the format 07 CE 2344. The 07 refers to the year of the car. CE refers to the county of registration, and the other number… well that’s just a number. Now its been pointed out to me in the past that having the year on the registration encourages people to buy new cars… to show off like… everyone wants to show off their new car. So, this proposal is to change the year number with an energy rating. The idea is that people will want to show off how energy efficient their car is…


Energy Efficiency is at a disadvantage, people think that doing it… makes you look uncool/poor/less attractive to women/men… so using something like this, which makes gas guzzlers wear a dunce hat… is a good idea

Energy Efficiency is a great idea on the merits of the energy/money/CO2 saved, and shouldn’t need to use psychological crap like this.

This is a similar plan what Toyota did with the Prius… It looks different from other cars so green people can show off how green they are.

We could also discuss how Energy Efficiency, encouraging people to consume less… is not the Capitalist/American way…. And so cannot/should not succeed. This is also an interesting discussion (well… again… to me)

So… opinions???

6 Responses to Attitudes Towards Energy Efficiency

  1. It’s a interesting idea. I believe that in the US new cars come with an energy rating sticker on the windscreen, ( Some sort of sticker on the back of new cars might have the correct result.

    I can’t see changing the reg system working though, there’s far to many other systems and processes that depend on the current system. Also I think this should be an EU wide thing for maximum effectiveness and each countries reg system is different at the moment.


  2. I believe the most valuable, in terms of overall savings, and the readily achievable energy efficiency is in domestic power usage.

    You mentioned CFL bulbs – if everyone in the country changed to CFLs it would have a HUGE impact on our ecoomy. I would go so far as to suggest that the government should bulk buy CFLs and give them free to every household. At very least there should be NO VAT on these bulbs.

    The other area, and one which has been almost totally neglected, is insulation of older buildings. The millions spent in grants by SEI with so very little real return – if only this had been directed into retro-fitted attic and other insulation projects, the pay-back to the nation would have been 10 times that of bolstering the “Paddy Tax” on such items as geo-thermal systems and wood-pellet systems.

    OK – OK I do rant a bit here. It does not take from the basic truth of what I say. So we are essentially singing from the same hymn sheet.

    Cheers. Tony McGinley

  3. greennav says:

    Hey guys… thanks for the input… I think particularly interesting about this is that its not about grants, or financial incentives, or anything like that… Its about changing peoples perceptions of what type of car is “cool” or “desirable”. Tony’s point about grants for insulation is a good case in point. Putting in insulation is a financially sensible thing to do… so why would give a grant… be the correct way to encourage people to do it. I mean… I’m sure people would make use of the grant, and it would (will) raise awareness, but the concept is fundamentally flawed. If people cared about the money… and were thinking rationally, they’d be putting in insulation now… If you really wanted people to put in insulation… then you have to affect their vanity side… not their financial side!

  4. MicallC says:

    I think its a great idea to make the Energy Rating of cars more obvious and transparent. Consumers now recognise the A-G rating of white goods. Is there an overall rating for Cars ? I know ratings would be different for the same car depending on urban v motorway usage – but what about a simple A-G general rating per Car. I think it would definitely catch on and positively influence energy conscious car purchasing.
    I think the rating could go on a windscreen sticker alongside tax, nct and insurance?
    Thanks, C

  5. greennav says:

    Ho MicallC

    this site will tell you what your emission are (well I hope it will)

    then you need to use this table for the irish rates

    Band A (225 grams per km) – 36%

    I agree that it will have an affect, I just think it’s a pity that it is needed. I also think there will be a bi of a backlash… but anyway…

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