According to a recent study by the French Environment & Energy Management Agency (ADEME), the source of almost 80% of greenhouse gas emissions is power generation. Its use and development are therefore of great importance for the protection of the environment. Whether in industry, in offices or within our own homes, our energy use needs to be controlled and optimized. Energy efficiency is a key issue, and one which many stakeholders in both the public and private sector are taking very seriously. They are working to develop and implement solutions that allow individuals to control their energy use along with improving their lifestyle comfort.
There are various ways of achieving energy savings at home, such as changes to our consumption habits, usages, energy refurbishment or investment in energy-saving technology. And yet, the number of French people living in fuel poverty remains unacceptable, even though energy efficiency is now listed as one of the criteria for decency in housing. According to the French National Observatory of Fuel Poverty (ONPE), this issue – defined as the inability to afford to keep one’s home adequately heated – affects almost five million households in France.
In 2016, the construction sector was the largest energy consumer, accounting for 43% of French energy consumption; this branch of business produces over 120 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, which is almost one quarter of national emission levels. And while France has committed to a fourfold reduction in its CO2 emissions by the year 2050, energy efficiency in the home is a major focus of the energy transition.
Presented in April 2018, the Energy Refurbishment Plan for buildings is a key component of the French Government’s energy transition policy. A plan that intends to make a priority of refurbishing 500,000 homes per year, aiming to provide assistance to the lowest income households for this transition.
To the same end, in November 2018, the Government announced its aim to phase out oil-fired boilers within the next ten years, including the provision of financial assistance for the 3.4 million households needing to convert to new forms of heating.
A series of measures and targets that reveal the extent to which household energy consumption is seen to affect the ecological balance
Beyond these refurbishment works, there are other solutions available to help people lower their household energy bills. There are many sources of energy use within the home, such as lighting, thermal comfort, domestic appliances, etc., and each of these sources can be optimized. Choosing appliances that are less power-hungry is a positive first step; although the initial purchase is often costlier, they do prove a better investment in the longer term, both for the purse and for the planet.
Heating accounts for two thirds of domestic energy use. In addition to converting their heating systems, occupants can look to reducing energy loss; a smart home allows occupants to better understand their energy use and to make appropriate changes. It is now possible to equip the house with a smart home controller, used to adjust the heating remotely or to programme timers. Products and services, such as energeasy connect, can be used to control domestic heating based on scenario pre-sets suited to different lifestyles.
As for lighting, this represents almost 12% of household electricity usage. To reduce this expense, raising awareness of good practice is key. In addition, replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs provides for real savings – in the region of 80% – as they give a very high lumen output and use very little energy. We are also seeing an increasing number of smart lighting solutions, which can be used to make further savings simply by adjusting the brightness and colour of the lighting.
The is a growing general awareness of the need to make energy savings. As such, the steps being taken to promote energy efficiency, at government level, in businesses, and also by individual households, are abundant. Within the home, individual occupants can each make an effort to reduce energy use, with no adverse effect on their level of comfort. Furthermore, with the increasingly widespread use of technological objects such as the Internet of Things, individuals are now able to monitor and control their energy use and hence their energy bills.