With a bleak economic output for the coming year, and a cold winter predicted there is increasing concern that rocketing fuel bills will drag more and more households into ‘fuel poverty’.
In the past, rising fuel bills have been attributed by many, to investments in green technology, leading to growing resentment and even skepticism surrounding the impacts of climate change.
New evidence however, contradicts this theory and highlights other measures exacerbating fuel bills increases.
According to the CCC (Committee on Climate Change), the average fuel bill increased by £455 between 2004 and 2010. When broken down it was found that the vast majority of this rise (£290) was attributable to rising wholesale gas prices, with just 20% related to introducing low carbon technologies.
The same study also highlighted that low carbon technology will not result in big bill rises in the future, with best estimates suggesting it will increase fuel bills by the tune of £110 by 2020.
To many people this increase may still seem steep, but it depends how you look at it. The way I see it, a £110 rise in 8 years is much better than the £290 rise we stomached over the last 6 years due to conventional technologies. Furthermore, investments in low carbon technology have the potential to grant additional advantages to our environment and economy such as decreased pollution levels and a nation that has decreased dependence on fuel imports to produce energy.
Furthermore, for the more savvy bargain hunters, there are green schemes and solutions out there that can have particularly favorable impacts on energy bills!
Arguably the most effective approach is to insulate your home. One off investments in insulation measures such as loft and wall cavity insulation can reduce bills by hundreds of pounds a year simply by making a home more efficient at retaining heat. Strategies such as this can pay for themselves within just a couple of years. Whilst primarily resulting in long-term reductions in a household’s fuel bill, this approach can realistically prevent hundreds of kilograms worth of CO2 pollution annually.
A revolution in the lighting sector, may also allow for a reduction in our future bills, this time for electricity. LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to conventional lighting due to their increasing versatility. Recent large-scale field studies have found this technology to outdo current lighting in pretty mush every aspect. With a lifetime of around 100,000 hours (just 1000 in traditional incandescent bulbs), the potential for brighter lighting and the fact that they use up to 90% less energy than their competitors, it is only a matter before this technology is mainstream in the western world.
Kitting your house at with solar panels is a slightly more luxurious ways to reduce bills, and until recently equally as effective. Thanks to a government subsidy, households who invested in solar paneling could sell excess electricity back to the national grid in a scheme that saw a 7% annual return on their initial investment. In the current economic market, a return of this rate has been more appealing than those offered by high street banks. Such attractive offers had encouraged 100,000 households to install the technology and allowed the solar sector to expand its workforce to 25,000 individuals.
Unfortunately the government has recently halved the value of its subsidy, probably as a response to the growing public concern surrounding fuel bills as mentioned above. The knock on effect to the green sector is yet to be seen.
For me, the animosity directed towards green technologies due to higher initial costs is misguided. This blog identifies how low carbon technologies are likely to benefit the average home in the near future, and I believe these case studies can be used as strong justification to invest in green tech now.
The aforementioned case studies make sense both economically and environmentally and the longer governments fail to back these schemes, the longer our environment will suffer from unnecessary pollution produced through outdated and inefficient technology, and the greater the eventual cost will be to repair the damage we have done.