Extended chills highlight nation’s energy ills

Sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to focus the mind on an issue. The current cold snap has done just that, bringing the rising costs of energy into sharp focus.

It’s easy to bumble along as the price of heating homes and offices and powering industry keeps nudging up quarter by quarter. We grumble, blame the energy companies and governments, but essentially do very little. Most people don’t even shop around energy suppliers because, let’s face it, they all move their prices pretty much in line with each other anyway…

But when there is a consistent freeze, with older people trapped in their homes by snow and ice and forced to keep the heating turned up, then the cost of energy and its immediate and direct impact on daily life really becomes a concern.

According to The Times newspaper, this situation has today prompted a reaction from a group of more than 100 charities, businesses and, er, energy companies. Apparently a letter leaked to the newspaper suggests these organisations are warning the Prime Minister that a fuel poverty crisis looms because of the failures of his Government.

Now, the more cynical among us might have to put aside for the moment thoughts of an agenda by the energy companies in backing such a call (they wouldn’t mind less demand on them to fund sustainable power, for example), but there’s no denying that this group has a fairly strong point overall.

The measures we have had announced so far (the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation) seem to be little more than fiddling around the edges, massaging apparent financial benefits for some people, in certain circumstances. They don’t amount to the mass insulation of a stock of ageing homes or the embracing of the more sensible, high technology approaches to sustainable energy. It feels like more of the same old, same old with some frills and window dressing.

There are so many ideas out there either waiting to be tried or which are already tried and tested and are just straining to be put to better and wider use – such as community heating projects and other approaches to more localised collaboration. Anything that causes less reliance on the gang of big energy suppliers might be seen as welcome.

Technology continues to make renewable and micro generation more and more capable of delivering heat and power. We make no apology for highlighting here the amazing efficiency of our world-leading ÖkoFEN wood pellet boilers. They are not just another method for burning wood as a fuel, they are a thoughtfully engineered and tremendously efficient user of the fuel that goes into them and they are just one example of how we can diversify the ways we meet our energy needs.

We don’t exist as a company to be political but we do work very hard to be practical. Unfortunately that’s something our current government is not achieving, with vacillating energy policies that make everyone in the sector nervous of making any firm decisions and which seem to run scared of taking any bold turns.

So if it takes a letter to the PM signed by the good, the bad and the downright ugly who can all see, from their varied standpoints, that we’re not getting this right as a country, the rest of us can only hope that our political leaders are paying attention – for the sake of those freezing pensioners, if no-one else.


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