As Big Energy Saving Week draws to a close on Saturday, what lessons have consumers learned about saving energy?
According to Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), which organised the initiative, Big Energy Saving Week is all about informing domestic energy consumers of ways in which they can reduce their reliance on electricity and gas central heating. The central aim of the awareness week is to lift households out of fuel poverty.
Fuel poverty is a growing problem in the UK. As a ratio, fuel poverty is calculated by dividing fuel costs (modelled consumption x price) by household income. If a household spends at least 10 per cent of its average annual income on gas and electricity, it is described as fuel poor. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) estimates that approximately 4.75 million households in the UK suffered from the effects of fuel poverty in 2010.
Earlier this year, energy regulator Ofgem published a report that claimed the wholesale cost of electricity accounted for just 54 per cent of a typical domestic electricity bill. Many people feel that the big six energy suppliers in the UK are pushing millions of households into fuel poverty to protect their enormous profit margins.
Can Big Energy Saving Week make a difference? After most of the leading energy firms in the UK announced price rises earlier this month, bills can be expected to increase this winter. Whether consumers learn the importance of and crucially find a way to improve energy conservation in the home is entirely another matter.
Baroness Verma believes awareness is key. She said: “Consumers really ought to know that help is available and there are lots of things they can access, but it’s about getting the message out there and empowering consumers”.
Chief Executive of CAB, Gillian Guy, said: “What worried us is that the government’s recent messages sound like a promise that everything will be OK and that this situation will be sorted out for people. That’s counter to our message, which is that people have to sort things out for themselves. I don’t want people to relax. It’s not going to be all right”.