In line with the recommendations on energy of HABITAT: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) has been actively promoting energy conservation and the more efficient use of energy in human settlements over the years. The Centre has been regularly publishing reports aimed at alerting policy-makers and practitioners on the importance and implications of energy requirements and conservation in human settlements.
The process of producing electricity, which is generally the main form of energy supplied to buildings, is, unavoidably, very inefficient. The overall efficiency of electricity production, from the power station to the consumer, is little more than 20 per cent. Hence, for every unit of electrical energy that is saved in a building, up to five times that value is saved at the power station in terms of primary energy. Furthermore, by reducing energy consumption, power demand is also reduced. This reduction in power demand can lead to lowering the peak demand on the supply system. As the level of investment in expensive generating plant is in direct proportion to the peak demand, this reduction in power demands can lead to a national saving in capital investment. Passive solar heating and natural cooling of buildings, which are two ways of reducing commercial energy consumption without reducing comfort in buildings can thus lead to financial benefits, both at the consumer and at the national levels.