By Mike Thornton, chief executive
Today’s news of a further increase to the price cap on energy bills, coming into effect in April, will be very concerning for people across Great Britain.
The latest steep rise is a result of very high global prices for gas and other fossil fuels. The rise has increased electricity prices too, because a significant proportion of our electricity comes from gas fired power stations – around 51% of all electricity in the UK.
With the number of households who will find themselves in fuel poverty expected to reach six million in April, we welcome Government’s announcement of support to provide a level of relief for households, including the expansion of the Warm Home Discount. But these steps don’t go far enough and it must expand on emergency measures to support those most in need.
At Energy Saving Trust, our work to help everyone save money on energy bills is now more important than ever, with advice on simple actions people can take around the home – from turning devices off standby, to draught-proofing – and referrals where possible to financial support, including grants for energy efficiency measures. We also encourage anyone who may be concerned about paying their energy bills to contact their energy supplier and Citizens Advice to find out what other assistance is available.
This crisis has brought the importance of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels through greater use of renewables and vitally, energy efficiency into sharp focus. More energy efficiency and renewables will minimise our exposure to the volatility of the global energy market and help to shape a fairer and more affordable energy future.
And let’s not forget that it was only three months ago that the world’s attention was focused on reaching net zero and tackling the climate emergency at COP26. We must not lose this momentum to reach the UK’s goal of net zero by 2050.
Increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and energy switching to renewable energy is a crucial part of net zero. Insulation measures and low carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps, will also have a direct and long-term impact on keeping our energy bills down so this is a win-win. But addressing the current crisis and moving towards net zero through such measures is only possible with full-hearted support from UK and devolved governments and as well as the measures announced today, we look to see this intensified over the next few years.
One other thing is also vital to help householders to keep their bills down and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This is provision of free impartial consumer advice and support to help manage home energy efficiency and energy bills. We know from our work with Home Energy Scotland and in Wales with the Nest scheme that this will empower all households to take action, manage their energy bills and contribute to the long-term benefits of net zero.
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