Insulation and Awareness Helps Household Energy Consumption Fall

16 August 2013

Households in England and Wales have cut their energy usage by a quarter as they become more environmentally savvy, a recent Government report has revealed.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average household energy consumption in England and Wales fell by 24.7% between 2005 and 2011.

Household energy consumption was highest in the East Midlands every year between 2005 and 2011. Despite this, the region saw a decrease in energy consumption each year with an overall decrease of 29.4% during the period investigated. The 11.5 kWh drop represents the largest decrease in absolute terms.

During the period in question, the West Midlands experienced the largest decrease in percentage terms. Energy consumption fell from 29.0 kWh to 20.3 kWh, a reduction of 30%.

On a regional basis, 16 of the 20 local authorities with the highest energy consumption were found in the East Midlands.

The South West had the lowest household energy consumption from 2006 to 2010, whilst Wales had the lowest in 2005 and 2011.

The report cites three reasons for the fall in consumption: the effect of European Union directives that promote energy efficiency through installing Cavity Wall Insulation and Loft Insulation; the introduction of energy ratings for properties and household appliances; and an increase in public awareness of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

The findings will be good news for the Government as it continues to roll out its Green Deal initiative. Under the Green Deal, householders can install Cavity Wall Insulation, Loft Insulation and more than 40 other energy-saving measures without the need for upfront payment. The initiative offers a loan, which is repaid via a property's electricity bill, with repayments not permitted to exceed the sum saved by making the improvements in the first place.

The Government is also pushing forward with the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO). Like the Green Deal, the ECO is designed to improve the UK's housing stock via the installation of Loft Insulation and Cavity Wall Insulation — amongst other measures — with the focus on grants for those households living in fuel poverty.

Consumer groups are not convinced these initiatives are the reason for the fall in energy consumption, and are suggesting that the cost of energy is playing a much bigger role in the reduction.

In a statement, Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? said: “Energy efficiency measures may have played a part in the fall in energy usage but the fact is many consumers will have cut back in order to save money in the face of spiralling prices and squeezed incomes. Consistently four in ten have told us that they plan to cut back on future spending on their energy bills.

“The Government needs to do more to help people cope with the rising cost of energy bills. People will not feel confident that they are getting a fair deal unless prices are simplified and the costs that make up our energy bills are open, transparent and subject to robust scrutiny.

“We want the Government to introduce simple energy pricing, a clear ring-fence between generation and supply businesses, and for all energy policy costs to be scrutinised by the National Audit Office. That way, consumers can see exactly what they're paying for and be more confident that there is effective competition in the energy market.“

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