As if to prove a point in the wake of the Copenhagen climate talks, mother nature has demonstrated the effects of severe weather changes notably to Britain, Europe and eastern US. Although referred to by some weather experts as a ‘cold snap’, the ice, sleet and snow that has gripped many parts of the world during the past week shows little sign of relenting. Snow conditions in the US have reached blizzard proportions, with around 16 inches of snowfall reported in many states and up to two feet predicted in New England.
In Europe, scores of people have died as a result of freezing temperatures, whilst southern Germany recorded temperatures as low as -33 centigrade and thousands of passengers travelling between the UK and France suffered badly following the breakdown of the Eurostar network. As the predicted effects of climate change include the possibility of a new ice age, it is not difficult to draw parallels between this extreme ‘cold snap’ and what is known about global warming.
At this difficult time of the year, it is important that households keep central heating systems running throughout the day and night – if only to avoid problems with freezing pipes and broken down boilers. However, high domestic fuel prices have forced many consumers to reduce their energy consumption recently, especially during the Christmas period. As such, people can be forgiven for setting aside plans to give their homes an environmentally friendly upgrade.
Despite this, homeowners may wish to spare some thought to a British Gas scheme quietly announced on the same day the Copenhagen talks commenced. The Pay As You Save pilot scheme will be available for up to 100 homes initially and provides homeowners with £10,000 to make their properties more energy efficient. The £10,000 is available in the form of a loan which can be repaid over a 25 year term through the money saved by reducing bills or the profits generated from supplying energy back to the National Grid.