I listened to call “You and Yours” this week on BBC radio 4 which had a debate about energy prices. Its obvious that due to high energy prices people are struggling. Some of the stories were a mixture of inspiration and toe curling sacrifice. Their were a heap of people calling in who claimed not to switch their heating on at all.
One person lived in Cornwall and claimed she did not use heating since it was warmer there. True it is, but we have had three cold winters which have affected the South West of the UK as much as anywhere else. This person had a well insulated house and a wood-burner in the centre of it somewhere. As she said she was lucky living in the country with ready availability to supplies of wood.
Another person’s tale was far more scary and war zone like, involving washing in small amounts of cold water. Yet another had learnt to have only cold showers. Yet another had been driven by high energy prices to move into one room during the heating season. He had everything including a small cooker in there. In the summer he used the rest of the house. My parents neighbours church does this. They cannot afford to heat the church building in winter, so meet in the church hall.
The common thread running through all this debate about high energy prices is heating. Whilst its possible (at least in theory) to do without heat in the UK its extremely difficult to do without electricity. There was little mention of conserving electricity on the programme even by the experts, although a couple of people had PV systems and raved about them. One person had used solar PV and solar hot water to heat an inter-seasonal heat store something we write about in the book and I would have been interested in knowing more about.
The “Green deal “ (again something we write about in “No oil in the lamp”) came up. Its had an extremely low take-up, part of the problem is ironically that many energy efficiency measures take a very long time to pay for themselves or never do within the life time of the product (such as double glazing). Energy prices as I wrote last week are both too high and too low, but this is largely not due to renewable policy, but wholesale gas price increases and these look set to continue.