The UK’s energy policy is at a crossroads. Ambitious carbon targets, an ageing energy infrastructure, rising fuel poverty, and a legacy of fossil fuel investment warrant bold political decisions to ensure the UK transitions to a sustainable low-carbon energy system. Because of the long-term nature of investment in energy infrastructure, decisions made over the next five to ten years will shape the trajectory along which the energy system will evolve. Getting those choices right is key for ensuring a sustainable, affordable, and secure energy future. Efficiency First delivers on all three.

Efficiency First means more than just strong dedicated energy efficiency policy; it is a principle applied to policymaking, planning, and investment in the energy sector. Put simply, it prioritises investments in efficiency resources whenever they would cost less, or deliver more value, than investing in energy infrastructure, fuels, and supply.

Dr. Jan Rosenow and Richard Cowart identify a number of key areas where Efficiency First can deliver low-carbon outcomes at a lower cost whilst also delivering a wide range of multiple benefits associated with energy efficiency improvements. This policy brief explains the concept of Efficiency First and shows how it can be applied in the UK context providing a number of examples. In particular, we focus on Efficiency First in the context of policy decisions that will be made over the next years, including the design of a new able-to-pay energy efficiency programme, energy network regulation, infrastructure spending, revisions of the capacity mechanism, and the levy control framework.