Over the last five years the price of lighting and heating our homes has become one of the biggest burdens on UK households as prices have continued to rise in the face of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies’ profits rising by 73% in the last three years.
So when Ed Milliband announced at the Labour party conference last week that, if elected, he would freeze energy prices until 2017 you’d be forgiven for cheering very loudly indeed. However, although this would represent great news for financially squeezed households all over the country, it poses some questions in terms of our efforts to reduce energy consumption and moving towards greener alternatives.
Question 1: Will cheaper energy mean we use more of it?
The rises in the cost of energy in recent years has triggered efforts in many homes to limit the amount of energy they use, for example using Smart Meters to monitor consumption and identify areas of waste.
However, if high energy prices trigger people to be more efficient, doesn’t it follow that cheaper energy would lead to households being more wasteful as a result of it being less of an issue?
Question 2: Will the price freeze damage green investment?
A two-year price freeze would inevitably effect the profits of the ‘Big Six’ – 3% was wiped off the shares of Centrica from the announcement alone – but would this lead to a cut in green investment in an attempt to protect those profits?
The Energy Secretary Ed Davey has already claimed that it would put “investment in clean, green technology in doubt”, while the energy companies themselves have claimed it would freeze the money for the renewing of old, inefficient power stations and the building of modern ones.
Question 3: Will cheaper energy effect the adoption of green technology?
It is estimated by Labour that the energy price freeze would save households £120 and businesses £1,800 annually. With this in mind, the impetus to invest in technology like solar panels and heat pumps could be taken away, having been shown previously that the social responsibility of lowering our carbon footprint for the sake of our futures is not really enough to trigger action.
Here at SolarTech we believe it is down to all of us to reduce the energy we use. To find out more about our solar panels, heat pumps or biomass boilers give us a call on 0845 838 2477.