Energy Secretary Ed Davey is to set out fresh proposals to slash demand for electricity as he publishes a blueprint for energy that critics say will massively increase households bills.
The long-delayed Energy Bill, formally published on Thursday, authorises ministers to almost treble investment in "green" power generation to £7.6 billion, up from £2.35 billion this year.
An estimated £110 billion is needed in the next decade to renew the UK's ageing electricity infrastructure, with much set to go into low-carbon power sources such as wind farms. Critics say the changes will be paid for by sharp rises in bills but Mr Davey insists state support for low-carbon electricity will cost the average household less than £100 a year.
And he said that he was "absolutely determined" to more than compensate for that by expanding efforts to encourage energy efficiency measures and lower energy demand.
A 10% reduction would save £4 billion in 2030, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) calculates, and reduce carbon emissions equivalent to those of a large city in a year.
Among ideas included in the two-month consultation are financial incentives for firms and individuals that install more efficient equipment, such as better freezers in supermarkets. Firms could also be paid to commit to permanent reductions in their electricity use, and an obligation on energy firms to help secure efficiencies extended to cover business premises.
Better labelling of products and an awards scheme to highlight firms that use only highly-efficient products are also included in the consultation.
Officials said any new measures would have to be carefully worked out to avoid undermining any of the existing schemes, such as the Green Deal. Recent analysis carried out for DECC suggested 26% of total demand could be eliminated by 2030 - more than the output of nine power stations in a year.
Mr Davey said: "The coalition Government is absolutely determined to help cut energy bills for consumers, reduce costs for businesses and bring down our emissions. We need to make our energy supply fit for the 21st century, and in a world of rising gas prices we must power our homes and businesses in a much more efficient way. That's why today I am setting out economy-wide, ambitious proposals to cut electricity demand. These build on our energy efficiency strategy published earlier this month and will help us lower bills and reduce the need for expensive new energy generation."
The Government believes the spending level for low-carbon power subsidies will allow the UK to meet goals to supply 30% of electricity from renewables by 2020 and also fund other low-carbon technology including nuclear and fossil fuel power plants where emissions are captured and stored. But environmentalists say the Bill does not go far enough, because it does not include a target to slash carbon emissions from the power sector by 2030.