UK Asks Consumers to Turn Down Their Boilers to Save Scarce Gas


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(Bloomberg) — The UK is encouraging consumers to cut their energy use as part of a campaign aimed at scaling back demand for power and natural gas in the face of soaring bills this winter.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government started its long-awaited public energy-saving campaign Saturday, just as the country emerges from a week of freezing temperatures that caused demand to surge. It includes advice such as lowering the temperature on home boilers and taking measures to reduce heat leaking through windows and doors.

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In Britain, energy bills for many consumers have more than doubled in the past year amid a historic energy crisis for the region, exacerbated by Russia curtailing gas supplies to Europe. UK government subsidies — which are set to decline in April — have helped to limit the price surge, meaning any savings from lower consumption could help soften the blow to the Treasury. 

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The UK measures — halted by Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss — come months after more aggressive energy-saving plans in Europe. In France, the government unveiled sweeping measures to slash energy consumption by 10% over two years. Germany pushed through its own slate of demand-destroying efforts, including prohibiting outdoor monuments from being illuminated at night for aesthetic reasons and limiting office temperatures. 

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Britain’s awareness campaign, dubbed “It All Adds Up,” comes after short-term power prices in Europe soared earlier this week, as the cold snap coincided with low-wind conditions. While there was no shortage of energy, gas and power demand surged — demonstrating the fragility of the region’s electricity network and providing a glimpse of how expensive the winter may be.  

A separate program run by National Grid, which encourages UK households to curb electricity demand at peak times, showed that consumers are willing to change behavior to save energy, the grid’s Electricity System Operator said this week. Five tests of the system delivered more than 780 megawatt-hours of demand reductions, equivalent to £2.8 million ($3.4 million) in savings.


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