The power of electricity conservation: Tips to boost energy efficiency

Written by
1 May 2024
The power of electricity conservation: Tips to boost energy efficiency

As the economy grows and more sectors expand their activities, electrical consumption also increases. 

Saudi Arabia, a country adamant about boosting non-oil economic growth, is expected to see an increasing demand for electricity generation. According to Statista, the demand is projected to reach 373.50 billion kWh in 2024, growing at an annual rate of 3.81% from this year to 2028.

This will be primarily driven by the country’s robust non-oil industries. While the surge signals a thriving economy, it also reveals a vital matter that shouldn’t be overlooked: electricity conservation.

The benefits of electricity conservation

Conserving electricity goes beyond cutting down consumption. Looking at the bigger picture, it’s about fundamentally transforming how the market uses, produces, and perceives energy. 

Saudi Arabia, traditionally reliant on oil for electricity and heat, significantly impacts the global carbon footprint. Given this, the importance of electricity conservation has never been more punctuated.

Economically, optimizing energy use reduces the costs for individuals and governments. This further frees up resources for other uses or investments. Environmentally, it helps minimize the carbon footprint of energy-intensive activities. 

Recognizing the importance of electricity conservation, the majority of households in the country are expressing willingness to invest in energy-efficient appliances. Based on this 2022 data, this commitment varies by region, with the Northern Borders exhibiting the highest willingness at 59.31%. Jazan is close behind at 58.34%, and Riyadh follows at 57.61%. 

These figures highlight a positive shift toward energy efficiency. Nonetheless, there’s still substantial room for growth. 

Promoting electricity conservation in Saudi Arabia

To help close gaps in this field, Saudi Arabia established the Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC) in 2010. 

The agency is dedicated to implementing measures to promote conversation. Two years after the SEEC’s creation, it teamed up with other government organizations to launch the landmark Saudi Energy Efficiency Program (SEEP). SEEC has also introduced other initiatives (e.g., implementing energy efficiency specifications and regulations for various products) to maximize energy consumption.

These endeavors have all been paying off. 

According to the Ministry of Energy, the country saw substantial energy savings in home appliances and lighting from 2011 to 2019. These include a 57% improvement in air conditioning (AC) units’ energy performance, a 22% drop in refrigerator consumption, and an 80% reduction in lighting energy use. 

The industrial sector — consuming about 48% of the nation's primary energy — also recorded significant progress. There was a 2% reduction in the amount of energy the iron industry use. Meanwhile, the cement industry has achieved a 2.8% decrease in energy use in its factories and an even larger 4.2% reduction in its clinker production facilities. Additionally, the petrochemicals sector has successfully lowered its energy use by 2.9%.

Earlier in January, SEEC, led by Director General Nasser Al-Ghamdi, also recognized 90 government institutions for their environmentally friendly practices. Of these entities, 37 institutions achieved 'Grade A' with 100% compliance and significant energy savings.

Electricity conservation tips to follow

While national-level efforts are imperative, boosting household electricity conservation is equally crucial.

Globally, household consumption generates about 72% of the world’s carbon emissions. This underscores how individual actions and home energy use significantly impact the planet's health. In Saudi, a country with a desert climate, it’s vital for residents to understand the importance of electricity conservation while maintaining comfort in the harsh heat.

Here are some tips to follow:

●    Plan wisely. One of the most immediate things you can do is to reduce electrical consumption during peak load hours (In Saudi, it’s midday — around 11:00 to 17:00). Whenever possible, save energy-intensive tasks (e.g., washing clothes using a washing machine and drier) for off-peak times. 

●    Be mindful when using AC units. The country’s air conditioner market is expected to hit 1.4 million units by 2028. As more people use this appliance to combat heat, it’s essential to know how energy can be conserved. Keeping the home thermostat at 24 degrees Celsius or higher and on “auto” mode can save up to 5% on cooling costs per degree. When choosing an AC unit (or any other appliance for that matter), look for a higher energy star rating, which indicates better energy efficiency.

●    Consider using more LED bulbs. LED lighting solutions are up to 85% more efficient than traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs. While the upfront cost can be substantial, these expenses can be outweighed by long-term savings. In the country, the LED lights market size is growing, hitting SAR 1,325.1 million last year. It could expand to SAR 3,996.6 million by 2032, growing at an annual compound growth rate of 12.7%.

●    Undertake energy-saving home improvements. Households with a higher budget to dispense can embark on larger-scale energy efficiency-boosting projects. For instance, investing in solar-powered options can reduce electricity bills. MarketWatch research shows that homeowners who install solar panels can anticipate an average annual saving of $1,530 on their energy bills. 

The way forward

As Saudi Arabia continues to make strides in electricity conservation — both on a national and household level — it’s essential to explore innovative methods that further enhance efficiency and sustainability. 

Advancements in technology offer promising prospects. For example, a new study by UNSW Sydney that it’s possible for Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi, to reduce its temperatures by about 4.5 degrees Celsius in Riyadh during summer. This method involves using ultra-cold-reflecting materials on building roofs, which are designed to reflect a significant portion of sunlight and minimize heat absorption. Such materials can dramatically decrease the need for air conditioning, leading to an estimated 16% savings in cooling energy usage.

“The project demonstrates the tremendous impact advanced heat mitigation technologies and techniques can have to reduce urban overheating, decrease cooling needs, and improve lives,” said UNSW Scientia Professor Mattheos Santamouris. He is the senior author of the study. 

As Saudi Arabia continues its journey toward economic diversification and more energy efficiency-boosting solutions become available, one thing becomes clear: The path to a greener future is best paved through shared commitment.

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