Bord Gáis Energy is developing and delivering solutions which enable customers to reduce carbon emissions through controlling and optimising the energy they use, improving energy efficiency, accessing cleaner energy and fuel switching. Our ambition is to empower our customers to be net zero by 2050. Colin Bebbington, Retail Director at Bord Gáis Energy writes.
At Bord Gáis Energy, our ambition is to grow services within the home, delivering full end-to-end solutions for customers, bringing them on the journey to net zero with us. We want to be the leaders in this space, delivering energy services solutions in over 500,000 homes in Ireland beyond 2030.
The journey to net zero will begin with the National Home Retrofit Scheme. This pilot scheme was established to provide a vehicle to upgrade the energy efficiency of existing housing stock and achieve the Government’s Climate Action Plan home energy retrofit targets. The scheme is designed to encourage the development of one-stop shops, engaging groups of private households, approved housing bodies and local authorities who aim to deliver energy efficiency upgrades.
Bord Gáis Energy intends to be the foremost provider of these sustainable solutions in homes and businesses across Ireland, providing advice, products and technology that help customers transition to net zero in the most economic and expeditious way possible.
To achieve this, we are increasing our capability to service customers in-home needs via our service engineer network. We have rolled out home energy upgrade services and smart home technologies to reduce consumption (and in turn, heat emissions), partnered with car manufacturers to support the EV rollout and associated charging networks to reduce transport emissions. We have started upskilling our dedicated boiler service engineers on newer low carbon heating technologies.
Having recently digitalised boiler servicing and repair we believe that this is a key channel for growth, creating a marketplace for home services and educating customers on their path to net zero.
Through home energy upgrade and retrofit services, we, at Bord Gáis Energy, aim to reduce the carbon footprint of each customer by over 80 per cent. An average three-bed semi-detached home with an E1 rating and using gas as the main heating source currently outputs 6.7 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Bord Gáis Energy services will target to bring a customer’s home to a minimum B2 rating, reducing the carbon footprint by 5.5 tonnes per annum to 1.2 tonnes.
Achieving net zero heating
Simultaneously, it is important that we remain cognisant of how net zero heating can be achieved. Ireland has a hugely diverse housing stock. Not everyone can afford the cost of acquiring A1 insulation or a heat pump, and, equally, not all homes will be energy efficient enough for heat pumps to be able to keep them warm.
We need to maintain our options as we transition, mindful that we also have a relatively new gas network that should be deployed to best effect. It will be important to explore alternative technologies including hybrid heat pumps and green gas, as well as hydrogen.
We also need to acknowledge the role that natural gas will play as a transition fuel for decades to come. A recent study of the UK market estimated, on a purely economic basis, that even in 2050 a proportion of homes would choose or need to maintain natural gas boilers as their primary heat source.
Consequently, achieving a net zero future will require the right combination of:
• educating consumers on the benefits;
• providing innovative product solutions; and
• centrally funded incentives to support change.
Over the past number of years, Bord Gáis Energy has been educating its customers on how to use energy more sustainably. We are now talking to our customers about a full range of retrofit services including solar PV, insulation, glazing, EV charger installation, heat pumps as well as newly designed smart energy tariffs that help customers use energy at optimal times to suit their own individual needs.
The key here is for customers to understand the benefits and be interested in pursuing alternatives every time they seek to incrementally improve their home; thereby feeling part of the wider societal importance of transition and supportive of the cost to achieve.
Increasingly, the products in our Hive Active Heating range are providing more insight to customers around energy usage. Coupled with the optimisation opportunity that comes from the current rollout of the National Smart Metering Programme (NSMP), this will only enhance customers awareness of their energy usage and create more sustainable homes today.
For instance, the Hive smart thermostat can save each home up to 0.5 tonnes of carbon annually with minimal impact. Turning thermostats down by just 1°C can reduce annual space heating energy consumption by 10 per cent, with an equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
In transitioning to a low-carbon heating option, it is vital that consumers understand the benefits for themselves as individuals and for society. But in practice, consumers will need financial incentives in the form of progressively funded grants to swap out their oil heating systems and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. To put it simply, if we want consumers to stop buying boilers and swap to a costlier but lower-carbon alternative, the additional capital cost required needs to be funded by an incentive scheme.
Bord Gáis Energy has recently launched a range of new green tariffs that combine green electricity with energy reduction through smart products. These plans include an innovative dual fuel proposition with 100 per cent green electricity and 10 per cent renewable gas. The plans also include free Hive Active Heating and an Amazon Echo Dot to allow customers manage energy more efficiently.
We know an opportunity exists to achieve competitive advantage in playing our part in reducing the overall carbon footprint of Irish consumers. Bord Gáis Energy wants to take the lead in helping customers understand what products are best for them to reduce their individual carbon footprints.
Our core values in developing a green proposition at Bord Gáis Energy and those which will guide us on our roll-out of these tariffs are:
• meeting customer needs and expectations; and
• delivering real environmental impact, helping our customers live more sustainably whilst standing up to scrutiny and delivering measurable carbon reductions.
In many ways, the next five years are only the beginning. It will be a learning curve and we at Bord Gáis Energy are keen to play our part, working with partners to package home energy upgrade and retrofit solutions, exploring the installation of alternative technologies in our customers’ homes, providing our customers with BER advice, expanding our Hive Active Heating technology, and adapting the platform to deliver new insights to customers.
For further information visit bordgaisenergy.ie
Colin Bebbington, Retail Director
Colin is accountable for retail strategy, sales and marketing, category performance, and energy services. He joined Bord Gáis Energy in 2012 in the role of Residential Category Controller with responsibility of delivering the segment P&L.
Colin has a wealth of experience in the telecommunications and energy sectors, including senior roles at Vodafone and Meteor. Colin holds a master’s in strategic management from University College Dublin and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.