Engaging The Public on Energy Efficiency Post-COVID Crisis

In recent times, the conversation on energy efficiency and energy conservation has increasingly come to the forefront. With global greenhouse gas emissions continuing to rise, the need for collective responsibility to curb further reckless adulteration of the environment is becoming more and more pronounced. According to the Climate Institute, Kenya recorded over 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2013, equivalent to 0.13% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the global perspective, it does not seem much but it’s a harmful contribution nonetheless. It is therefore pertinent to engage the Kenyan public on individual and collective prudent energy conservation initiatives.

Similar to other countries globally, the relentless COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Kenyan economy hard. Quarterly GDP report from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that in the first quarter of 2020, Kenyan economic growth slowed to 4.9% compared with 5.5% growth in the first quarter of 2019. The global lender, International Monetary Fund, recently made a projection on the Kenyan economy contracting for the first time in three decades. This situation should drive us to be ever more vigilant in our energy consumption, and work towards conservation and efficiency.

One of the most effective ways in which we can improve our energy practices as a country is through public sensitization on the utility of energy efficiency.

The Kenyan Government ought to step on the gas on issues synonymous with how Kenyans relate with energy consumption, conservation and efficiency. One way in which this can be done is by initiating and driving public discourse on the same. Key stakeholders in the conversation, in addition to the public, would include energy companies such as Kenya Power and KenGen, civil societies and prominent influential individuals. The conversation can be geared towards sensitizing the public on the need to consume energy efficiently in homes and places of work.

The benefits that can be accrued by engaging the public on energy efficiency practices and their total adoption into daily rituals and routines, is manifestly self-evident. Households and organizations will be able to save on energy and healthcare costs, the government can have more coherent and cost-effective energy policies, and the environment will thank us.

Some of the engagement strategies that can be used to reach Kenyans down to the grassroots include: holding training workshops, encouraging public debates on energy conservation, initiating energy efficiency contests, awards and showcases.

It has been observed that the chief determinants on energy use by the majority of Kenyans are the levels of education in Kenyan households, and the socioeconomic stratification. There seems to be an inescapable link between the levels of education and socioeconomic class, and the behaviours associated with energy efficiency practices. With such an understanding, public sensitization can be tailored for specific audiences for better engagements.

Arguably, the most effective way to cultivate a culture of energy efficiency and conservation is to introduce it in our learning institutions. This “catches” the brain of the soon-to-be adult in a malleable and most impressionable state. This is the time to inculcate best disciplines and practices that will be hard to leave the public conscience as they will be adopted at the early stages of life.

Some of the measures the public can be encouraged to adopt require one to simply adjust seemingly trivial energy propensities such as: using energy-saving jikos, energy-efficient bulbs and switching off appliances when not in use. Others include utilizing solar energy in areas such as water heating. Furthermore, motorists can be encouraged to walk short distances, cycle and carpool.

By adopting such energy practices, Kenyans can significantly cut their household spending on energy, post Covid-19 pandemic, and consequently carry these best energy practices for effective energy cost management going forward.

First published in Business Daily.

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