The pressure mounts daily on the Government to cut UK consumption and bills through energy efficiency – an urgent necessity that we have argued for all year.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement at the weekend of moves to provide a £50 cut in energy bills is welcome but far too little. The Government, as we have underlined in previous posts, appears to be caught like a rabbit in the headlights when it comes to radical, effective energy policy.
On the one side, they have to appease the Big Six energy companies for structural economic and political reasons. On the other, they face a storm of protests over rising energy bills from business and consumer alike.
The argument is largely over pricing when it should be focused on energy efficiency, which with the right policies would help to drastically reduce consumption of utilities and so cut bills.
Cutting consumption is the only effective, long-term solution. We have found strong echoes of our campaign with the publication of a new report from the think tank Green Alliance, Seven steps to reducing energy bills.
Seven leading consumer, industry and green organisations have challenged political parties to focus on an energy efficiency programme to cut energy bills.
The seven steps are a compelling mix of the carrot and stick:
1. Politicians need to give industry and consumers the confidence to invest in energy efficiency
2. Ensure owner occupiers are acting
3. Create more stringent obligations for private landlords
4. Provide financial incentives for owner occupiers
5. Maintain Energy Company Obligation’s (ECO) ambition and increase its flexibility / Reduce the complexity of delivering ECO retrofits
6. Use planned economic development spending to support retrofit roll-out
7. Strengthen links between energy efficiency and fuel poverty in local public health programmes.
The plan’s focus on cutting consumption through energy efficiency is a big step in the right direction, and one the Government should embrace. But we also argue at SaveMoneyCutCarbon that energy efficiency goes way beyond loft insulation, double glazing, insulation and even solar panels.
These are welcome, although the payback on cost of installation is measured over many years. In contrast, the “return on investment” for businesses and consumers who are helped to refit their properties with LED lighting and water/heating saving devices like Eco shower heads, eco taps and tap aerators is very quick, measurable in months, not decades.
It’s worth restating that Lux magazine has a great article in the November edition with trusted data showing that a typical UK home should save £254 a year in electricity costs with LEDs.
Our research at SaveMoneyCutCarbon further shows that by using eco shower heads, eco taps and quality tap aerators, households can save around £400 a year in heating and water bills.
We think the figure of £650 savings is compelling and that the Government should act now to promote and support a national campaign – Cut Consumption, Cut Bills – that helps both consumers and businesses replace traditional lighting with LED solutions, and install water/heating products that reduce consumption substantially.
These solutions are simple, cost-effective and go on saving money by cutting consumption year after year.
It is clear, as the Green Alliance report emphasises, that the Government does not want to promote a full national retrofit programme but this is precisely what is needed. The £50 energy bill cut saved through establishing a rebate and reducing the cost of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) will hardly have consumers dancing a jig around the Christmas tree (if they can afford one).
And while consumer could also get up to a £1,000 when they move home to spend on a limited range of energy saving measures and landlords will receive additional support when improving their properties, businesses are currently left high and dry.
In total, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says £540m will be invested in energy efficiency over the next three years. We will see how that is to be funded.
But in the meantime, as Charlotte Malone advises in her Blue & Green Tomorrow article, a recent survey by the Energy Bill Revolution found that 85% of those questioned placed energy efficiency measures in their home as one of the top three priorities on the infrastructural development agenda.
And remember that most of the UK’s housing stock has “extremely poor energy efficiency”. More than one in three homes are in the worst performing E, F and G Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) bands.
Also we must bear in mind that energy bills have risen by 30% over the past three years – and they will rise again by much more than the rate of inflation, even with the Government’s moves over the past week.
The average domestic bill in 2012/13 was £1,267. With the recent rises, that will push up annual average costs for essential utilities to nearly £1,500. No wonder, then, that this expense is the biggest single worry for householders across the UK.
A brave and bold Government would act now to help cut energy consumption in the best interests of consumers and businesses across the UK. It has the power to do so, only the will is missing.
We can help you drastically cut your energy and water bills. Just call us on 0333 123 5464 to start the energy efficiency, cost-cutting conversation.