When I was a child I always hoped for long warm summers so I could enjoy them. Now that I am older and paying my own energy bills, I still hope for mild winters and warm long summers. Not I hasten to add so that I can enjoy them, but, because I like most the people are getting fiscally violated by the ‘big 6’ energy cartel members and I need to keep my energy bills down.
So news that households in England and Wales cut their energy use by a quarter over a six year period, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) should come as now surprise. The ONS report that average consumption of gas and electricity fell by 24.7% between 2005 and 2011 – this should be good for us the energy customers and good for the planet (less green house gases) - save for the fact that we (the energy customers) have faced steep increases in our bills over the period, and are perhaps trying to economise as a result.
Personally if I can make it to October before I put the heating on, or later, then that from my point of view is a bonus. Ofgem (the energy regulator) says that energy bills have risen by 28% in the last three years. Some of the saving are down to increasing use of energy efficiency measures, with insulation, double-glazing and new boilers – ironically this is something that Plaid first advocated some thirty years ago – long before we started getting fleeced by the energy companies.
The ONS also said that another reason for the fall in consumption might be down to the introduction of energy ratings for properties and household appliances, something which may allow customers to make informed choices. Ofgem also noted the price rises, pointing out that the average duel fuel bill is now £1,420 a year.
ONS figures also showed that energy consumption is highest in England in the East Midlands, and lowest in the south-west of England, which has the mildest climate in the UK. The Department for Energy and Climate Change figures showed that Scotland still has the highest energy consumption of any part of the UK. They also noted that gas consumption in Scotland fell by 14% between 2005 and 2010, as shown by figures from March 2012.
One thing that could help is the smart meter, which show people exactly how much energy that they are using at any particular moment in time. While both the concept and the real thing have been around for a while, when it comes to installing them, the big six members appear to be dragging their feet. It is hoped that they will be installed in 53 million homes by 2020.
Household energy bills have become a major drain on finances, with people literally choosing between heating or eating. Fuel poverty is now alive and well here in the UK. Successive Westminster governments, both formerly New Labour and Con Dem have done little to curb the excessive profits raked in by the ‘big 6’ energy cartel members but have been happy to rake in extra taxes on profits.