Lack of knowledge on the benefits of energy efficiency is blocking the level of adoption it needs to curb the country's rising use of resources, industry sources say.
Khaled Bushnaq, chief executive of the consultancy Energy Management Services, said technology and expertise were readily available from local companies.
"Everything is available in the UAE to be energy-efficient," Mr Bushnaq said. "All of the components are there but no one is adopting it."
Mr Bushnaq represents his company on the board of the Emirates Green Building Council, which is spreading the message that efficiency is not only good for the environment, it can also cut operating costs.
Efficiency schemes include better air conditioning, lighting and insulation in existing buildings, and upgrading equipment or capturing the heat from processes such as cement making in industry.
"You can take it as a rule that in any house, 15 per cent of the utility bill can be recovered by simple measures," Mr Bushnaq said.
Such savings can be achieved with simple measures that do not require sacrifices in comfort.
"People think they need to suffer if they want to save energy but this is not true," said Mr Bushnaq.
Adnan Sharafi, chairman of the council, said energy-efficiency schemes could help to extend the life of power infrastructure.
Mr Sharafi said the lack of awareness was not only on the part of the public and business owners. Banks lacked the ability to assess energy-efficiency projects and the viability of financing them.
He said schemes such as energy-performance contracting, in which the cost of upgrades is financed by energy savings achieved, could overcome the financial challenge.
"The potential is huge," Mr Sharafi said. "We just need to make people aware that there are many choices available."
He said the council was putting together a database listing companies offering energy-efficient technology and services, and that anyone who wanted to be included should make contact.
Government departments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are looking at ways to encourage energy efficiency. Dubai has a target of 30 per cent reduction of energy use through efficiency measures by 2030.
In Abu Dhabi, the Regulation and Supervision Bureau is running a trial in which 400 villas are charged power prices that fluctuate - higher rates at times of peak demand and lower at times of weak demand.
The trail is yielding "encouraging early results", said Nick Carter, the bureau's director general.
"We have rolled out several energy-efficiency programmes in collaboration with our Abu Dhabi electricity sector partners," Mr Carter said.
"There are many opportunities to implement energy-efficiency measures in Abu Dhabi and this is something we have been focusing on for some time.
"With the launch of our Powerwise Office in January this year, we are able to work with key stakeholders to recommend effective energy-management technologies, and encourage simple yet effective behavioural changes through education.
"As well as looking at energy-management technologies, consumers' behaviour is a key factor when it comes to energy efficiency."