Energy efficiency represents a set of strategies, practices and technologies aimed at optimising the use of energy, reducing waste and improving efficiency in energy production, transformation and utilisation processes. In short, it means being able to do the same things with smaller energy consumption.
Important notes on energy efficiency
- Energy production is a very important source of greenhouse gas emissions and therefore a strategic field for emission mitigation through efficiency, consumption reduction and new energy mixes increasingly shifted towards renewable sources;
- In particular, there is great scope for increasing the energy efficiency of buildings. IPCC Working Group III co-chair Jim Skea, said that today “we see examples of zero or zero carbon buildings in almost every climate” and that “action this decade is critical to capture the mitigation potential of buildings”;
- Energy efficiency in buildings also has a significant impact on citizens’ quality of life, their health, indoor comfort levels and fuel poverty.
Energy efficiency is based on the idea of doing ‘more with less’, i.e. achieving desired energy results with less energy. Energy efficiency plays a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions for climate change mitigation.
One of the key strategies of energy efficiency is the reduction of energy waste. This can be achieved through the adoption of conservation practices, such as the use of high-efficiency appliances, optimised lighting and intelligent management of heating and cooling systems.
In the industrial sphere, energy efficiency can involve the implementation of cogeneration processes, which allow the simultaneous production of thermal and electrical energy, optimising the use of energy resources.
Numerous organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, promote and support energy efficiency through initiatives, incentive programmes and regulations. The European Union, for example, has set binding targets for improving energy efficiency, particularly in buildings that are responsible for around 40 per cent of the EU’s energy consumption and 36 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. To increase the energy performance of buildings, the EU has established a legislative framework that includes Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings and Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency. The directives promote policies that will help achieve a highly energy-efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050, create a stable environment for investment decisions, and enable consumers and businesses to make more informed choices to save energy and money.