UK Government Aims to Introduce Legislation Increasing Energy Efficiency in Lighting

Recently, the UK government announced that it plans to introduce new legislation to raise the minimum efficiency needed by lights, thereby reducing the UK’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions. What energy challenges has the UK faced, what would the new proposal do, and are such proposals helpful? 

What energy challenges has the UK faced?

The past few years have been extraordinarily hard for the world; rising CO2 emissions threaten climate change, the COVID pandemic wiped out all economic growth, and the semiconductor shortage has seen numerous difficulties in manufacturing. One problem particularly worrying for those in Europe is the ongoing energy crisis, whereby skyrocketing gas prices have seen the cost of heating and electricity rise substantially. 

Despite the fact that the UK derives large portions of its energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar, the rise in gas prices has still resulted in electrical bills nearly tripling. Such rises in energy costs have numerous repercussions ranging from an increase in the cost of living to a surge in inflation rates and stagnating wages. But the war in Ukraine isn’t just affecting the gas price; it is also putting pressure on energy reserves. 

As the gas supplies from Russia are slowly switched off, other gas sources have to be found, and this becomes problematic when considering that Russia is one of the world’s major gas exporters. Thus, energy companies had to purchase gas at premium prices for storage, which is why utility bills don’t immediately reflect gas prices (i.e., customers are charged the price of gas when it was purchased). 

UK government aims to introduce new energy efficiency legislation

Recognising the challenges UK consumers face, the UK government has recently announced its intentions to introduce new energy efficiency legislation that will target lighting to reduce energy bills in the long run.

If the proposal succeeds, bulbs used in both domestic and non-domestic applications will be faced with stricter energy efficiency ratings. Undoubtedly, this will be realised through the use of LED technologies, and the historic bans on incandescent and halogen bulbs will likely see the vast majority of bulbs in the UK based on LED technologies. In fact, the new legislation will leave LED-based lights as the only type of lighting technology available to consumers. 

According to the UK government, the legislation could see consumers saving between £2,000 and £3,000 over the lifetime of the new bulbs (depending on the size of the home). In addition, the new legislation could also reduce the carbon footprint of the UK by 1.7 million tonnes, the equivalent footprint of 2.5 million homes.

If the proposal is accepted and put into law, it will come into force by late 2023. However, details on the energy efficiency requirements haven’t been made clear, so the exact efficiency level is yet to be determined.

Are such proposals helpful?

Undoubtedly, the proposal laid out by the government will help CO2 emissions and energy consumption in the UK, and reducing customer energy bills is an excellent way to put money back into taxpayers’ pockets. However, the balance between energy efficiency and bulb cost must be considered, as requiring all new bulbs to be exceedingly efficient could see high costs for bulbs. Increasing the efficiency of a bulb may reduce the electrical bill, but the increased cost of the bulb can wipe out that saving, making no difference to the consumer.

Of course, it’s not just light bulbs that the government should target; power supplies are another area that could see massive savings. While the power consumed by chargers and small power supplies may not be as large as lighting, the increasing number of chargers used in homes and offices makes them an ideal target for energy efficiency requirements.

Overall, energy efficiency is an important factor in modern electronics, and reducing energy waste not only helps to decrease bills but also reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, takes power away from those who wish to wage war, and even helps to drive innovation.

17 Jan