This winter, ministers will finally advise households on the best ways to reduce their energy consumption and bills. The information campaign, expected before Christmas, was at the center of a debate that spanned three prime ministers and divided the Conservative party.
The government had been willing to push the button for a £15 million campaign signed by the then company secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, but it was blocked by Liz Truss for fear it would be seen as “babysitting”.
Meanwhile, European governments have launched a series of campaigns ranging from urging the public to turn down the thermostat at home to turning off lights in public buildings. John Musk, an analyst at the investment bank RBC, said: “It is very late in the day for the UK government to finally realize that saving energy is the cheapest way to deal with the energy crisis.”
Housing minister Michael Gove said on Thursday the campaign would not be “babysitting or patronizing” and would point people to “authoritative sources of advice” on energy consumption management. Those sources could include the energy regulator, Ofgem, bodies such as the Energy Saving Trust (EST) and retail suppliers.
In the former state, stars like the TV chef Delia Smith were used to spread the message. (Those ads are worth checking out.)
It’s unclear whether an advertising agency will be tasked with coming up with the campaign, but data from Tussell, which oversees government procurement, shows the business department issued a contract worth up to £30 million in May for the “supply of media buying services”. – for everything from TV to social media – to a division of the advertising giant Omnicom. In the spring, a separate four-year contract worth up to £1.5m was put out to tender for ad-hoc planning of “campaign media activities” for the department.
Officials have identified eight changes to save up to £420 a year without loss of comfort, the Times reported. Here are some of the proposed measures and the estimated annual savings that ministers believe will all deliver.
Reduce boiler temperature: £80
About 23 million homes receive their heating and hot water from gas boilers. Reducing the boiler supply temperature where water is pumped from your boiler to your radiators will not lower the temperature of the hot water from your taps, but it can save money. Most combi boilers are set between 70 and 80C, but work most efficiently around 60C.
Switch off heating when going out: £105
An obvious way to reduce consumption and bills is to make sure you don’t heat a house when no one is home by making turning off the heating part of your routine for getting out of the house, like grabbing your keys and wallet or bag.
Turn off radiators in empty rooms: £105
Likewise, turning off radiators in rooms that are not or are not used often can yield significant savings. This is a more obvious benefit for those with large houses or bedrooms that are not used every day.
Electrical savings such as water standby: £55
This is the estimated annual savings of a series of small measures, such as switching off electrical appliances instead of leaving them on standby. The Times report doesn’t detail the other measures, but they may include remembering to turn off lights and avoiding the clothes dryer instead of drying racks. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that these two measures could save up to £25 and £70 a year respectively.
Change baths for showers: £15-£20
Government analysis reportedly predicts that those who bathe regularly could save £15 by swapping one for a shower once a week. EST advice states that swapping just one bath a week for a four-minute shower can save £20 a year on bills. It is clear, however, that the government has rejected calls to advise people to take shorter showers or turn down the thermostat over concerns from ministers about the state of the nanny.
Investing in your home: various savings
Campaigners have long argued that the most effective way to save energy is through effective insulation. It is clear that the campaign will encourage this measure and will encourage measures such as attic insulation, cavity wall insulation and thermostatic radiator valves. In last week’s autumn statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that a further £6 billion will be funded from 2025 on energy efficiency.
EST estimates that using a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves saves £180 a year. It costs around £580 to install a full set of controls, and that investment pays for itself in four years. Other measures, such as solar panels, will cost much more, although the payback period since the energy crisis has pushed up bills.
Other measures that the government could consider advising the public are: draft-tight windows and doors, insulating hot water pipes and venting radiators.