Cutting Energy Use – whose responsibility is it anyway?

oliver General, The Green Deal

As thoughts of another cold winter start to loom a new survey reveals that energy costs are high on the list when it comes to worries about household spending. But how does this desire for cheaper energy affect plans to provide greener sources of energy?

A recent survey carried out by ComRes has suggested that people in the UK support clean energy and actually think that the government is not doing enough to support sustainable practices. But contrary to this in times of economic difficulty, people say cheap energy is more important than reducing emissions.

So do we have to choose between the two?

The survey, showed broad support for clean, “green” energy sources. In fact more than 60% of people thought that the government was “not green enough when it comes to energy policy”, while only 36% stated that they are not bothered by where their energy comes from. The survey also found that…

  • 75% believe the UK’s energy costs are unreasonable
  •  69% said the firms should be nationalised.
  • 84% would welcome more solar panels in their area – the prospect of reducing energy prices was also important.
  • 67% of people said they would support more coal, oil and gas stations being built in the UK if it brought energy prices down.
  • 38% of those surveyed said they were concerned about how they will pay for their heating bills.

 

However, in times of economic difficulty, 60% said that it is more important to provide power as cheaply as possible than to reduce carbon emissions. Strangely it seems that home owners are not taking personal responsibility in cutting energy use, instead expecting lower bills via energy supplier or government intervention. Clearly we as a British public are resource dis empowered.

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Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 live that the government’s energy strategy was a “disgrace”. She says the governments own figures on the fuel poverty gap – the difference between what households with high energy bills pay out for gas and electricity and the official poverty line – show it has increased by more than 12% in the last two years.

 

A lot of the blame regarding price inflation is pointed towards the government. Can we really say that energy prices are for the government alone to fix? Can we help take a stand against big energy companies? Or is there more that we can do as individuals and communities? The first thing worth doing is uniting your own community, and what better way to do it than online, i’ve recently set up my own Street Club to do just that.

In 2011, New Era Colorado fronted a campaign in Boulder, Colorado and approved a charter amendment that authorized the city council to form a municipal electric utility based on renewable, affordable energy, rather than coal. This video shows their small town campaign against a million dollar energy company.

Our local communities may feel dis-empowered to be able to take such a stand, but looking at the ongoing protests against fracking in Balcombe, Sussex proves that we don’t always have to wait for the government before a change can be made. Taking energy solutions into our own hands, working with your neighbours and surrounding community to create efficient heating solutions and home improvement initiatives can help set the precedent for others to follow in the fight against rising energy bills.