Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The energy companies are putting up their charges with alarming regularity leaving more and more families in financial difficulties. Looking at my own energy bills it would be easy to think that I was heating a small town when the truth is that I have only a modest house. Surely we are reaching a tipping point here a soon everyone will be struggling to pay their fuel bills but with every supplier imposing increases where can we go?
Playing PoliticsIt enrages me that politicians are using the situation to propose vote winning policies rather than instituting practical measures that will change things for the long term. Whilst I am sure that Ed Miliband’s intention to freeze bills will appeal to many, in the short term the mere threat of the measure appears to have induced yet more price rises. I believe it is time to take more definitive action and the politicians can help us.
Making SavingsMany households have taken steps to reduce their energy consumption by installing insulation, efficient boilers and energy saving appliances. We are all turning our thermostats down and reducing the length of time our systems are on but there is only so much you can do before you run out of money saving options.
Power GenerationThe problem is that we are all beholden unto the energy suppliers and that will change little even if there is more choice in the future. What would alter the landscape is if individual households in large numbers started generating their own power. It is easily possible to do this via solar panels, air source heat pumps, hydro-electricity and wind turbines. The main obstacle is the cost of installation. Whilst all of these systems will save money over the course of time, the up-front investment required is significant and many households simply couldn’t afford to wait several years before realising the benefits. With solar panels typically costing £7,000, air source heat pumps about the same and a hydro-electricity system a massive £25,000 few families could muster the cash to get started. A roof mounted wind turbine costs as little as £2,000 but that is still a hefty amount to invest for many people.
The EnvironmentIf the government could evolve subsidies to back these installations or at least have special interest free loans to enable people to finance the endeavour then not only could many more households generate their own power and make savings, the environment would benefit too. All of these domestic generating systems use renewable resources and have low or no carbon emissions. If our politicians are serious about saving the planet or at least its resources then they should be acting now.
New BuildsIt would also help if all new properties were built with the ability to generate power. It would be easier for householders to cover the cost of the systems via a mortgage or their rent than trying to come up with a lump sum up front. If people had a realistic choice between generating their own power and buying it from an energy supplier I suggest that prices might then become more reasonable. These companies are charging what they like because they can.
Energy SalesDomestic generation could be great news for householders. Not only can they make energy bills a thing of the past they can also sell any power they don’t use back to the national grid. Perhaps one day many properties will have solar panels and turbines on their roofs but as things stand it is just a lucky few.
Sally Stacey is a keen writer who works from home and has tried everything to keep it warm!