Ministers plot campaign urging Britons to slash energy use

Turn off radiators in empty rooms, don’t leave devices on standby, and insulate your loft: Ministers plot campaign urging Britons to thwart Putin’s ‘blackmail’ and save £100s – as new Ofgem energy bill cap leaves government facing £5bn a MONTH in subsidies

  • A public information campaign will advise Britons on cutting their energy usage 
  • Householders will be told they can save over £400 a year through thrifty tricks
  • Tips include reducing boiler settings and turning off radiators in empty rooms
  • Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said Britons have a duty to stop ‘blackmail’ by Putin 

Britons will be urged to save hundreds of pounds a year and thwart Vladimir Putin’s ‘blackmail’ in a new Government public information campaign.

Ministers will appeal for families to turn down boiler temperatures, avoid keeping electrical devices on standby, and insulate lofts as part of the drive.   

The push, which will include TV adverts and a social media blitz – is expected to highlight that people could shave over £400 off their bills as a result of taking simple steps.

However, the importance to the government’s finances was underlined today as Ofgem announced that its energy price cap is due to rise to £4,279 a year for the average household bill from April.

As the taxpayer is subsidising the level at £3,000, it means the Treasury’s costs will nearly double to just over £5billion a month. But the less energy Britons use, the lower the bill to the government. 

Appearing before MPs yesterday, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt urged Britons to cut energy use by 15 per cent in order to stop the country being ‘blackmailed’ by Russia amid the Ukraine war.

‘For most people, we need you to play your part in reducing our energy dependency on what Putin chooses to do in Ukraine,’ he said.

The importance of saving energy to the government’s finances was underlined today as Ofgem announced that its cap on average bills is due to rise to £4,279 a year from April

The government is subsidising energy costs again from March, but bills for households will still rise 

Yesterday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt told the Treasury Select Committee: ‘For most people, we need you to play your part in reducing our energy dependency on what Putin chooses to do in Ukraine’

‘That isn’t just at a national level but that’s for every household. We think that the £500 that we’re offering to help people save next year, at current gas prices, if people do the 15 per cent, they could save that £500 themselves in the amount they pay in the years that follow.

‘So we’re trying to help people to help themselves. We’re giving them a cushion this year and next, But we do need people to change their behaviour.’

Officials have pinpointed eight changes they insist will save consumers £420 per year without them realising it.

They include lowering boiler temperatures – which could save £80; turning off heating when going out – saving £105; turning off electrics instead of leaving them on standby – saving £55; and having showers instead of baths – which could save £15.

Other ‘nannying’ suggestions around cutting down thermostats and shorter showers have rejected for their negative effects on wellbeing, according to The Times.

The chancellor has also announced an extra £6billion in energy efficiency funding from 2025, as householders are encouraged to install loft insulation and thermostatic radiator valves.

Former PM Liz Truss had previously blocked plans for a public information campaign on energy use on the grounds that she was ‘ideologically opposed’ to it. But her veto has since been overturned by successor Rishi Sunak.

The government is said to be hoping to kickstart the campaign before Christmas and will follow similar campaigns in France and Germany.

One key difference however, will be Britain’s focus on saving money, as opposed to the continent’s push for patriotism after Putin switched off gas supplies.

The price that Government will have to pay to support households with their energy bills is set to increase from January as Ofgem increased its energy price cap to 67p per unit for electricity and 17p for gas.

The decision will not impact the amount households pay for their energy because the Government has said electricity will cost 34p per unit and gas will be 10.3p until April.

Without the Government support the average household would be paying around £4,279 for its energy under the new cap. The support will ensure that average households pay £2,500. Energy is charged per unit, so those who use more will spend more.

Mr Hunt said Britons have a responsibility to cut energy by 15 per cent in order to stop the country being ‘blackmailed’ by Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured)

Experts at energy consultancy Auxilione estimate the new cap will cost the Government around £15.1billion to subsidise household bills between January and March.

In contrast, the cost is expected to be £7.8billion in the last three months of 2022 

Energy consultancy Cornwall Insight said the hike in Ofgem’s cap on energy bills will be ‘concerning’ for the Government, but will not impact British households directly.

Craig Lowrey, a principal consultant at the outfit, said: ‘The Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) will shield consumers from the January price cap of £4,279 announced by Ofgem today, however the rise will be concerning to the Government, who will be shouldering the billions of pounds needed to compensate suppliers the difference.’

He added that the price cap is likely to remain high from April, at a little over £3,900 for the average household. Those who use more energy than the average will pay more.

It means the Government could end up paying around £42billion over the 18 months it has promised to support households with their energy bills, despite the support becoming less generous from April, Mr Lowrey said.

‘This highlights the nature of the wholesale market risk that the Government is taking on by deciding to extend the EPG for longer than the March 2023 date announced by the Chancellor in October, with the consequence that the full costs may be potentially higher than currently budgeted for.

‘Extending the EPG, even at an elevated level, has resulted in the Government being exposed to variables and factors over which they crucially have no control. The risk is reduced by changing the level of support but remains acute.

‘With Cornwall Insight predicting energy prices will remain above historic levels for many years to come, one thing is clear: more targeted support for the most vulnerable is likely to be needed on an enduring basis if the Government wants to protect consumers while also stabilising its finances.’

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