Learning from the pandemic

The Covid pandemic had profound effects on energy use in transport, but smaller effects in buildings and industry. Research to track changes is ongoing, but it seems likely that some changes in transport practices will persist.

Weekday car traffic post pandemic remains 10% below pre-pandemic levels. It is probable that historic commuting patterns will not be the same as future patterns. Covid has reduced the use of public transport and there is some evidence of relocation away from towns and cities, which might tend to increase commuting distances. However, people are still buying fewer cars and home working has reduced overall traffic levels, although there is greater use of LGVs, with lockdown accelerating the trend to online shopping. The pandemic has boosted both cycling and walking. The former largely for leisure; the latter has been more resilient across time [1].

Demand for space heating, which is the largest single use of energy in the UK and drives its seasonal variation, was less affected than travel by the major lifestyle changes that occurred during Covid lockdown. Initial survey data showed limited changes to self-reported thermostat settings, with some modest increases in appliance and hot water energy demand [2].

Banner photo credit: Pat Whelen on Unsplash