Blog from Erik Gudbjerg: High energy cost leads to new habits, they can also reduce global warming

The Danes’ energy supply has been hit by the perfect storm at the moment. Together with the rest of Europe, we want to reduce our dependence on Russian energy so that Russia has a harder time financing their war against Ukraine. However, although huge savings and shifts to other forms of energy have already been achieved throughout Europe, Russia has responded by reducing gas supplies even further. The result, as we all know, is historically high energy prices. Not to take on a justified fear that we may not have enough energy for a cold winter.

There is a great deal of agreement on what the long-term solution must be. It would have been necessary anyway, even if Putin had not turned energy policy into security policy, thereby reinforcing the need: We need to convert our energy production to local and sustainable energy sources. Partly to secure our energy supply. Partly to live up to our commitments to reduce Denmark’s CO2 emissions by 70% already from 2030. But it takes time. The wind turbines will not be up from one day to the next, and it also takes time to set up photovoltaic systems, biogas plants and hydrogen plants to an extent that makes a difference.

Can we do nothing to secure supplies for the winter of 2022-2023? Yes, we can, and we are already doing so to an extent that gives us a lot of hope. We are developing new habits. Danes’ private electricity consumption has fallen almost 10% so far this year. In addition, a lot of power consumption has been pushed out during the night hours, where the power is cheaper and is primarily produced by Danish wind turbines. Thus, night consumption has not decreased.

And there are only advantages to this, because the cheapest and greenest energy is – and always has been – the energy you do not use:

  1. Reducing our dependence on imported energy
  2. After all, we are cutting the top of an energy bill, which will still be a challenge for many
  3. We are reducing the scale of the huge investments needed to shift our energy supply to exclusively renewable energy sources
  4. We are creating new competences in the field of energy efficiency. Skills that will provide jobs and income to Danish society for decades to come
  5. We are taking a giant step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030. Especially if we can maintain the new habits in the long term

How do we maintain our new habits? Yes, all experience shows that we only change habits if we can see an advantage in it or at least do not experience some disadvantages. In other words, we need to turn the new habits into routines we don’t have to think about.

But what is it that has worked so well so far this year. Well, we don’t really know. There has been plenty of good savings advice, but so far no large-scale campaigns have been carried out, so we must assume that there is still an untapped potential in bringing the good advice further into play.

The answer is probably that we consumers use our common sense, and it has simply proven amazingly effective:

  • When we turn down the thermostat by just 1 0C, we reduce heat consumption by 7%. There really is something to be gained if the thermostat is at 21 or 22 0C and we might be able to get by with 19. And once we get used to it – I wonder if we can continue to cope with a slightly lower room temperature?
  • There is also no harm in planning the next day’s meal the night before so that frozen foods can be thawed in the fridge.
  • We probably cook less food in the oven and use less water for boiling potatoes, etc.
  • Our baths have become colder and shorter
  • We’ve probably gotten better at turning off lights and other electrical appliances when we’re not using them. At the societal level, stand-by consumption is enormous, and now it can also be felt in the individual household
  • Even in the cold months, we can often dry the clothes completely or partially outdoors and save the dryer. And it gets fresher from it
  • No less than 1/3 of the car trips in Europe are under 3 km. I wonder if many of the tours currently convert to walking or cycling?
  • There are still plenty of cars driving around with empty seats. GoMore and other car-sharing services are likely to have crowning days, and the potential is huge
  • And the dishes and clothes will probably not be less clean from being washed at night. Admittedly, energy consumption will not be lower, but the bill does because at night we are often self-sufficient in electricity from wind turbines, so the power is cheaper

These are all good, sensible measures that we should have taken anyway and that we might as well stick to. And that’s probably just the start. By the beginning of the year, energy prices had indeed started to rise, but it was after the start of the war on 24 February that the increases really took hold. So it’s exciting how energy consumption will develop in the coming cold months. I think we are going to see savings of at least 15-20% in private households. And if we can maintain the new habits when energy prices hopefully normalize, we have taken a huge step towards both freeing ourselves from Putin and meeting our climate goals. Then the effort has been good for something.

About the author: Erik Gudbjerg, Senior International EnMS Expert and owner of Your Energy

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