Energy Efficiency And Energy Economy in Households : Dr. Narayan P. Chaulagain & Krishna Adhikari
Energy efficiency has become a growing issue all over the world. In terms of primary energy consumption, buildings represent around 40 per cent in most of the countries and 65 per cent of the total electric consumption. In the case of Nepal, energy demand from the residential sector constituted almost 89 per cent of the total energy consumption in the country in 2008/09. The number of households in Nepal stands at 5,423,297, with a population growth rate of 1.3 per cent annum and average household size of 4.88, which is an indication that energy usage in the future in the building sector will rise.
The current energy scenario shows that Nepal is facing an acute shortage of power. The peak load is more than 1,300 MW while the supply is only 40 per cent. This gap leads to a situation of power outage in managing the distribution - almost 15 hours a day in the dry season and 6 hours a day in the wet season. This has led to a wide gap between electricity supply and demand by different sectors, including domestic as well as commercial and industrial entities. The residential buildings in the urban centres of Nepal mainly use electricity and LPG for lighting, heating and cooling purposes.
The urban residential sector makes up about 14.5 per cent of the total residential sector energy consumption. About 52 per cent of the urban energy is used for cooking purposes followed by electric appliances (14 per cent), lighting (13 per cent ), heating and cooling (10 per cent), animal feeding (8 per cent ) and agricultural processing (3 per cent). The overall growth rate of energy consumption in the residential sector is about 2.3 per cent per annum.
Agricultural residues are generally used in the rural residential sector both for igniting wood fuel and as the main energy source in areas where fuelwood is in short supply or scarce. Among the traditional fuels, fuelwood alone contributes to around 89 per cent in the total energy consumption for domestic cooking. Animal dung was mostly consumed in the residential sector. I
f we were to concentrate on reducing energy demand in the residential buildings in urban locations, even a nominal percentage reduction in energy use in buildings would have a significant impact on national energy requirements, and this could be achieved with little investment or simply by being more diligent in our use of energy in homes. Lighting needs and use patterns need to be studied, paying special attention to high-intensity areas. Therefore, replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or LED could be an option to save lighting energy use.
By using energy efficient technology, one’s building becomes less dependent on the national grid. Thus, making every individual aware about the need to use efficient technologies like solar PV home systems, passive heating/cooling systems and solar water heaters could play a vital role in the economy and environmental management of our country. In this regard, improving energy efficiency in the residential sector is necessary to make the residential sector cleaner, greener and more sustainable.
Energy efficiency is an important component of the energy economy. It is often called an “energy resource” because it helps to decrease the use of primary energy resources and achieve considerable savings. The entire world is now focusing on saving energy, increasing energy efficiency and reducing the effects of using energy. Many researches are on-going, and the concept of reducing energy use in the residential sector has taken hold with the promotion of sustainable buildings, green buildings, energy efficient buildings and the like.
In the absence of a proper guideline or policy, people usually focus on short-term costs and are misguided in certain cases. With proper regulation and technology selection, it is possible to give the minimum required comfort to the occupants with lower lifetime costs. Furthermore, lower emissions due to lower energy requirements and, thus, reduced use of renewable energy sources will help in sustainable development as well.
A residential energy efficiency policy would help change our consumption pattern via building energy efficient homes. The use of energy efficient buildings accounts for a large share of the total end use energy. This includes energy used for controlling the climate in the buildings, the buildings themselves and also for appliances, lighting and other installed equipment. Policy intervention could possibly reduce the demand for and costs of cooling and heating systems.
An energy efficient policy intervention would help control the ever increasing energy costs, reduce environmental footprints, and increase the value and competitiveness of buildings. Sustainability is all about using the resources of today efficiently, in a manner that meets our own needs, but doesn’t compromise the ability of others, including the future generations, to meet their own needs.
Because of the large gap between the supply and demand of electricity in our country, greater focus has been given on generating more electricity, i.e. more focus on the supply side of it, though it is not happening as per the expectation. Serious attention hasn’t been paid to demand side management and energy efficiency. A comprehensive energy efficiency strategy as well as integrated energy policy has not been seen so far.
There are some government policy interventions regarding energy efficiency. The 2010-13 Three Year Plan mentioned about the need of energy efficiency and the government’s commitment to move further towards better efficiency in the energy sector. The plan specifically highlighted energy efficiency issues under the headings of industry, hydroelectricity, alternative energy, and environment and climate change. In Nepal, building codes have been made, but only in terms of their safety, which is, of course, the first basic priority, and not in terms of energy use and efficiency.
In order to improve the residential sector energy efficiency, a set of measures, such as efficient technology encouraging the use of environment-friendly building materials are needed to be developed and adopted. An improved energy efficient residential sector can deliver additional co-benefits in addition to energy saving, for example on the present issues of climate change, reducing operating costs, compliance with tightening international and national legislation and standards, limiting the requirement for additional power to adhere to the national power crisis and market, client demands and increasing concerns about environmental ethics. These benefits ultimately can contribute to sustainable economic growth of the country. However, establishment of strong and effective enforcement of the control mechanism is a precondition for getting positive results of the suggested interventions and policy measures.