As a country, we use about 1% more energy every year (refer note 1). We could save about 20% of that demand (or $2.4 billion a year) by using energy more efficiently and relying more on renewable resources.
We can all make changes that help to shrink overall energy demand. It could be something as simple as switching off lights when you leave a room, or choosing appliances with a higher star rating. By 2035, EECA estimates that through cost-effective energy efficiency and fuel substitution measures:
- Businesses could reduce their energy use by around 19 per cent through smarter energy management, more efficient equipment and replacing existing process heating systems with electric technologies.
- Households could reduce their energy use by around 20 per cent through more efficient space heating, water heating and lighting.
- Transport energy use could be reduced by around 27 per cent through more efficient driving practices, improved fuel economy and electric vehicles.
Benefits of better energy use
There are great reasons to make better use of our energy. Using less energy means reduced energy costs in homes, buildings and businesses. The production of some forms of energy is harmful to our environment, so using less energy means less harm.
Being more energy efficient also has less obvious benefits. For example, Fuel efficient driving is also safer driving. People who live in well insulated homes not only use less energy, but are also warmer and healthier. More efficient commercial buildings are better to work in and employees are more productive.
Energy conservation means avoiding using energy and avoiding wasting energy. Conservation measures generally have a low capital cost but a high attention cost because they involve changes to our behaviour. Examples include choosing not to use your home heat-pump even if you'd like to be warmer (or cooler), walking rather than driving, taking shorter showers.
Energy efficiency means getting more from the energy we use.More efficient equipment can allow us to use less energy for the same result, for example LED lights produce as much light as filament bulbs, but for around a tenth of the energy.
To become more energy efficient you may need to invest in new equipment. Energy efficiency investments often have very good returns, and EECA recommends that for this reason they should be looked at ahead of other types of energy investments.
Note 1: MBIE energy in NZ 2019 shows the total primary energy use has increased by 0.9% per year on average since the year 2000.