The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) was formed in 1981 by a number of major companies active within the energy conservation industry. Our aim is to encourage a positive national awareness of the need for and benefits of energy conservation, to help establish a sensible and consistent national policy and programme, and to increase investment in all appropriate energy saving measures.
Membership of ACE is limited to twenty-four UK based companies which have substantial interest in energy conservation equipment and services. Current members include manufacturers, distributors, installers and providers of energy saving products and services targeting all energy uses in buildings.
ACE consists of two core operations. A parliamentary campaigns unit, with an interest in developing and promoting sound UK energy policy and a research department investigating many aspects of energy policy both in the UK and Europe.
Below are a number of examples highlighting the nature and impact of ACE’s work.
In 2010, the Parliamentary Team decided to run a campaign to improve the dire energy performance of the residential private rented sector (PRS). At the last official count there were 4 million privately rented households in England (17.5% of the total stock) – and compared with other housing sectors, the PRS has the highest proportion of the very worst performing homes (those in rated F and G on their Energy Performance Certificates). This was clearly a sector that was ripe for improvement – and there was the potential added bonus that if the argument for a minimum energy performance standard in the PRS was won, the door would be open for us to push for similar standards in the owner-occupied sector (now being actively explored by the Scottish Government). In partnership with Friends of the Earth, ACE built a campaign for all F & G rated properties to be outlawed from 2016. Within months, a coalition of over 40 organisations had been assembled. With the support of 180 MPs putting pressure on Ministerial colleagues, the support of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group and the Committee on Climate Change, the then DECC Secretary Chris Huhne announced in May 2011 that the rental of F & G properties would be outlawed from 2018 – in both the residential and commercial sectors. This will affect 360,000 homes and 420,000 non-domestic buildings. A big boost for the energy saving industry, for business productivity and a vast improvement in the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens.
To inform ACE’s, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s and the Energy Bill Revolution’s advocacy for a binding energy efficiency target to tackle fuel poverty, ACE Research in 2014 modelled the effects of bringing all low-income households in England up to an energy performance certificate of Band D by 2020, Band C by 2025, and to a Band B by 2030. The briefing’s stance was formally adopted by the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group as its recommendation to Government. Subsequently, the EPC standard of C became common currency in policy development circles. Achieving this in all 4.5 low income households in England would drive capital investment of £26bn, £2.6bn per year over the next 10 years. DECC's new fuel poverty strategy for England ended up being less ambitious, but has gone for EPC Band C for all fuel poor households by 2030. That affects 2.25 million households, with a capital investment required of over £850m per year.
ACE Research has provided much of the evidence behind the Energy Bill Revolution campaign in recent years. We compared fuel poverty across Europe and found that the UK comes second from bottom in the league table, with only Estonia performing worse. We showed that this is due to the UK’s inefficient housing stock, and provided an in-depth comparison with Sweden, which demonstrates best practice on energy efficiency. To communicate the message to the press and public, we calculated Burning Cash Day in 2014 – the date from which heating bills would be free, if homes had energy efficiency measures installed. This year we have shown that in England and Wales, cold homes kill over four times as many people as road and rail accidents, and that the UK’s excess deaths this winter are 77% above average. With extensive media coverage and political take-up, these pieces of analysis have made the case for ambitious investment in energy efficiency.
In 2013 our analysis revealed that approximately 1.6 million UK children were living in fuel poverty, and we built on this through two projects in collaboration with The Children’s Society. Our research on energy debt found that two million families are struggling to pay their energy bills, and showed the devastating impact of energy debt on children’s health and wellbeing. This became the basis for the charity’s Show Some Warmth campaign, which has led several energy suppliers to review and reform their debt practices. Meanwhile, our Reaching Fuel Poor Families project provided guidance on the most effective ways to provide assistance and advice to families, and encourage these vulnerable consumers to take up the energy efficiency measures available.
The Dynamic Engine is a market leading energy efficiency advice tool which is being used to communicate the benefits of energy efficiency through a wide variety of channels. Over 15,000 thousand customers use our services every month. We provide quality advice to; visitors to the , those using DECC's Renewable Heat Incentive Calculator, people calling the Energy Saving Advice Service and to Scottish Power customers. The tool has been used to open new channels for energy efficient products, with clients like John Lewis and Calor LPG. We provide low cost energy advice options for local authorities and produced half of all the leads to a Green Deal Communities Project in Hampshire. We are working with a team of 30 renewables experts across Scotland to develop a new approach to in-home energy audits, with assessors spending more time explaining the benefits to customers and less time with their measuring tapes. The Smart Meter Advice Portal is taking advantage of smart meter data to provide customers with a better understanding of the energy they use and the actions they can take to improve their homes. The Dynamic Engine also powers modelling software which produces high quality energy saving statistics quickly and flexibly.