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Why on earth would an energy company want me to use less energy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 May 2010 at 2:03 pm

It's so counter intuitive, I struggle to get my head round it. Why would an energy company want me to use less energy? And, stemming from that, why would the Government use energy companies – whose main interest is surely to sell more energy – to deliver their main energy efficiency measures? 

Yet CERT, the Government’s main household energy efficiency scheme has been delivered by the big six energy companies, with the costs passed to households through higher bills. And surprise, surprise they have exploited loopholes in the scheme to take the easiest and cheapest option and deluge customers with free lightbulbs (without finding out whether those customers wanted them or not). The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the average home now has six bulbs lying in drawers. Not exactly reducing carbon emissions there then.

In addition, the Observer reported that tens of thousands of lofts which energy companies claimed to have insulated under the Cert scheme had not been done because of double counting.

Despite all their corporate social responsibility programmes, the business model of big companies puts the financial return for their shareholders above all else. So why on earth would an energy company want their customers to use less energy?

This question must be hitting a nerve in at least one of the energy companies, because E.on is currently running a series of full page ads, with this question as the headline. It makes out that while a company with its eye on short term profit might be fooled into thinking that the more energy people use, the more money they make, it doesn’t stack up for the long term. “We’d rather have more customers,” is says. “All using less energy.”

Hmmm. I’m not convinced. Are you?

If they really wanted us to use less energy they could have supplied us all with smart meters which help us to visualise our energy use, and empower us to reduce it.

I wonder if our new government will find a more effective way of delivering its energy efficiency and retrofit programme.


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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1 comments - read them below or add one


fuelexplorerComment left on: 19 May 2010 at 11:42 pm

Cathy, there are serious issues arising with regards power supply. The Govt. stand to lose billions in tax if they actively promote serious power reduction strategies.  The power suppliers are supra-nationals employing many thousands of people ... etc.  They are mutually dependent. Rather like the banks and Govt. as we have seen to our cost.

The real solution will not be cheaper power, it will never happen. To be ahead of the tax curve, domestically, the private solution is to take yourself out of the power loop with serious insulation with quality builds to engineering levels then add to that solar heat, PV and wind, where possible.

To your point Cathy.  Smart meters are to be introduced to tax the public when they recharge their electric cars.  Smart meters will be smart and they will be able to recognise what device is drawing power & tax accordingly. Can you imagine letting the public loose with millions of electric or compressed air vehicles recharging on Economy rates! 

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