Britons are expected to be urged to limit their energy consumption by turning down their thermostat by two degrees in order to save them £400 a year as part of a Government campaign. Amid a cost of living and energy crisis that has seen people’s bills soar and budgets squeezed in one of the toughest economic periods since the 1970s, households are looking for every trick in the book to save cash this winter as for millions, every penny counts.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn budget included a range of public sector cuts which he said were part of the eye-watering decisions he had to take to plug a fiscal black hole worth over £50billion. But now it appears the Government is asking households to take it upon themselves to limit energy use and save cash.
Part of Mr Hunt’s scaling back of Government support for households was his move to increase the energy price guarantee introduced by former leader Liz Truss from £2,500 to £3,000. But to soften the blow of the £500 hike, ministers are hoping that by cutting energy usage by 15 percent, households could save £400 a year.
The proposals are set to be unveiled before the change to the price cap comes into effect in April, with Business Secretary Grant Shapps expected to make an announcement before Christmas, the Telegraph reports.
The advice will not only be to turn down thermostats by 2C, but will also involve the advice to install energy-efficient lightbulbs and reduce the flow rate of boilers, which according Government estimates could save around £100 per year.
The Government is already providing some form of energy advice. Its Help for Households website, for instance, suggests you should turn down radiators you are not using and draft-proof windows and doors in moves that could slash yearly energy bills by £70 in line with current prices.
Mr Hunt’s target of reducing the UK’s energy usage by 15 percent by 2030 will also be helped by his commitment to spend an extra £6 billion on energy efficiency measures like insulation between 2025 to 2028.
According to a report commissioned by energy efficiency company Grundfos, UK homes and businesses could be missing out on up to £3.1billion of savings every year by not improving energy efficiency in their homes and business premises.
But the company says that Mr Hunt’s announcements last week did not tell the public “how they can save money in the near term, and the target of reducing energy consumption in buildings and industry by 15 percent by 2030 is woefully unambitious. This will not unlock energy savings to the extent that households and businesses sorely need”.
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And according to the campaign group Friends of the Earth, the energy efficiency measures unveiled by the Chancellor are coming “too little, too late”.
The group said, reacting to the Autumn budget last Thursday: “A nationwide energy efficiency drive is essential, but the Chancellor’s proposals are far too little and far too late. Kicking the can down the road on home insulation for another two years, means millions of people will continue to suffer cold homes and sky-high energy bills.
“The government should have listened to its own climate advisors, the Climate Change Committee, who only last week called for an urgent and rapid roll out of loft and cavity wall insulation.
“A £5 billion a year street-by-street, home insulation programme, focussing on those most in need first, would reduce the nation’s use of expensive gas, slash energy bills, create jobs and cut carbon emissions. It’s a scandal that even with emergency financial support millions of people are still being left to shiver in heat-leaking homes due to soaring energy bills. With the price cap set to rise from next April, urgent action is needed to protect those most at risk.”
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But Mr Hunt did announce that an insulation taskforce would be created to spearhead the initiative, while he also pledged to look at incentivising homeowners to switch out their gas boilers for heat pumps or biomass boilers. Currently, installing a heat pump has a staggering installation cost of £10,000 on average, but the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme does offer a £5,000 grant.
While Simon Allford, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, welcomed the measures unveiled by Mr Hunt, he warned that time is of the essence. He said: “We very much welcome the chancellor’s clear statement that we must improve the energy efficiency of our buildings.
“The extra funding is welcome. But, to meet the scale of the challenge, and for people and our economy to benefit from the relief, it needs to be accelerated.
A Government spokesman said: “Our existing public information campaign, Help for Households, is driving up the public’s awareness of all the support available to help them with the cost of living, including saving money on energy bills.
“We are also investing £6.6 billion in total this parliament to improve energy efficiency across the country, with the majority of our support targeting those on low income and vulnerable households.”