Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Nine solutions that work to combat rising fuel prices

Three companies - British Gas, ScottishPower and Scottish & Southern – have announced price rises in recent weeks. At the same time, freezing weather and snow across Britain has boosted energy demand.

Jim Dale, senior risk meteorologist at British Weather Services told Bloomberg News that December may be the coldest in more than 30 years. “We are expecting a return to Arctic weather including blizzards and deep frosts from around Dec. 17.”

The Arctic weather has pushed up demand for both electricity and gas. Between 35-40% of the UK’s electricity is generated by burning gas, so the prices are linked. Since the price of gas has risen in recent days, it has also become more attractive for generators to switch to coal or oil, causing a rise in carbon emissions. (Carbon emission permits have also gone up in price.) The most expensive form of power generation is oil, so this too will have an impact on electricity prices.

The UK’s natural gas storage facilities are currently about 70% full, compared to 95% this time last year. If temperatures continue below average, we can expect to see prices go even higher, as we'll be forced to import more gas when storage runs low.

If that's not bad enough, today's Independent reports that energy prices may rise by 25% over 10 years.

The best option, of course, is to manage demand. The best way to do that is through energy efficiency and home insulation. The best people to follow are our Ashden Award winners. Here are nine inspirational approaches within the UK:

Kirklees Council, Huddersfield has rolled out free insulation to its residents.

Second Nature has developed and marketed effective roof-insulation material made from sheep's wool.

Northwards Housing, Manchester has converted housing stock into energy-efficient homes with no charge to tenants.

Leeds City Council has improved the energy efficiency of housing by over 21% since 1996.

Arun District Council, West Sussex has introduced energy efficiency throughout its operations.

Energy Agency, Ayrshire used a community fund to promote energy efficiency intensively in three local villages.

Cumbria Energy Efficiency Advice Centre provides an integrated service of advice, funding and installation for home insulation.

Community Energy Plus provides free energy efficiency advice and efficiency measures

Gloucestershire Warm and Well has linked seven local authorities with a range of organisations working on health and community support.

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