Families In Wales Are Making Energy Use Cutbacks
By Cynthia Taylor
Consumer Groups are not surprised at the cutback levels that are being made my Welsh households.
Councils and Households have a concerted effort of cutting back on energy usage while prices of energy are soaring.
It has been reported that Welsh households in parts of Wales were cutting back on their energy usage much more than in any part of the UK.
New figures from the Government has found that WalesOnline revealed that in 3 areas of Wales were amongst the top 5 local authorities, that showed the largest drops in electricity usage,between the years 2010 and 2011, and councils have also slashed consumption of gas and electricity by about 9.2% over the past year.
The figures that were tracked between 2005 and 2011 using surveys of meter readings of energy consumption across the UK has shown that the following places reduced their consumption by:
wereplacedamongst the top 5 areas showing the biggest cutback of electricity usage in the UK.
These statistics were revealed after Centrica had posted profit of £602million.
Increasing energy bills place high pressure on household incomes, thus, prompting people to cut back on their energy usage, warned a consumer group, this was in reaction to these figures, currently fuel poverty is affecting 1 in 3 households in Wales.
Despite the large cutback from some of the councils. Gwynedd has registered the highest electricity bills in Wales of an average of £804 a year, this is £150 higher that the averages in the UK – but they recorded the smallest gas bill of £561 in Wales.
The cheapest average in Wales was Blaenau Gwent in Wales and the third cheapest recorded in the UK, at £514 for electricity, however, they recorded biggest bills for gas which was £707, compared to Britain’s average of £649.
Discussions in Cardiff Bay, between Minister Stephen Crabb& Minister Michael Fallon who met with the leaders from industries who have high-energy usage, from companies like Valero, Tata Steel, Celsa and Toyota, the talks were centered round roaring price increases of energy, and they concentrated on the impact these costs have on businesses’ and how they can deal with it, also discussed was the obligations of complying with climate change.
Lindsey Kearton, who is the policy manager at Consumer Futures, Wales, said she was not surprised that there are “thousands” that were cutting back on energy usage.
She continued that people were struggling to pay energy bills, while their salaries had been frozen and also insecurity of jobs and cost of living plus food bills.
Ms. Kearton said that about one third were in fuel poverty and that fuel poor households will most likely turn down their heating, often below the level that is adequate for comfort and well-being, it is also likely that their homes are not energy efficient, have poor insulation and are prone to dampness.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for energy matters, William Powell, said that Welsh families faced increased and unaffordable energy bills, despite the cut-backs.
He continued that to tackle this problem effectively they have to protect people from going into fuel poverty, they have to take steps to ensure that homes become more energy efficient. He also said that the energy networks should become independent of expensive fossil fuels like gas, which is responsible for the recent price increases the country has been forced to endure.
He also said that the British energy economy was getting closer to the ‘tipping point’ with regards to production, and that development of renewable energy technologies will probably soon be cheaper, that it will be less expensive to install and operate that the alternatives of traditional fossil fuels.
Mr Powell said that when the transition happens, it is essential for the Welsh economy to be on the ‘right track’ ofths decisive shift.
Mark Isherwood who is the Tory Shadow Communities Minister, said that the suppliers have a responsibility to manage their tariffs so that consumers will get the lowest tariff possible.
He also said that energy prices have a huge impact on households, and these recent price increases were a further blow to many families that are already tightening their financial belts.
He stated that the UK government, through their new Energy Bill, is doing all they can to support the communities here, however, he felt that there was more that the Welsh Labour Ministers could and should be doing.
Wales is the only part of the UK that does not have a fuel policy advisory forum, and it has been recommended that it be reinstated by the Fuel Poverty Monitor in the UK.
LlyrGruffydd, spokesperson for Plaid Cymru’s energy,said that the heating and energy costs are more often higher in Wales, than in many of the other parts of UK,due to the fact that many of the houses are very old which has contributed to this problem.
Wales is a nation that is energy rich, and therefore, it seems to be unjust that the Welsh families are placed in a position to be struggling to pay their energy bills.
LlyrGruffydd also stated that was the reason that the Welsh government had called for a devolution of powers with regard to energy, so that the they can have a bigger responsibility, with regards to the way it will manage energy production and consumption.
Plaid Cymru believes that the communities should benefit fromrenewable energy projects, and that it should be a statutory requirement.
A spokeswoman from the Welsh Government said that they realise that fuel is a very big problem for many Welsh households.
The Welsh Government is in the process of taking action towards addressing this problem, however, the regular energy price increases together with squeezed disposable incomes have mask the efforts that they have been doing, as well as progress that has been made.
The government in Wales is committed towards the improvement of lives of the community through energy efficiency measures, in homes of people who have the lowest incomes, and have difficulty in being able to afford to heat their homes. The Welsh government has already invested over £150m to helpingto make over 127,000 homes more energy efficient.
They will also continue to invest in their strategic energy efficiency schemes, Arbedthat will improve the energy efficiency of almost 5 000 homes in some of the poorest areas in Wales up to the end of 2015.
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