The UK government has recently released the UK Housing Energy Fact File 2013 and there are a fair few interesting points to come out of it, as the following infographic shows, with an analysis below.
One point that caught our eye was that we are now keeping our homes 5⁰C warmer on average now than we were in 1970. It seems we’re getting more and more used to living in warm homes; temperatures in UK homes 40 years ago would feel cold by today’s standard. So what’s the reason for this?
Well, simply, the standard of living has improved for many in terms of heating and more people have access to new technologies and home improvements. For example, in 1970 far fewer homes had central heating, light bulbs were few and far between, and fewer houses were insulated in the same way they are today. There are also tighter building standards nowadays, meaning heat is much less likely to escape and is contained within the home.
In terms of how much energy we use, as individuals we use 1% more than in 1970, largely due to the influx of electronic devices, but households actually use 18% less energy thanks to dramatic improvements in the efficiency of space and water heating.
Another intriguing snippet of information brought up by the report was that coal-fired electricity generation accounted for 44% of total electricity production in 2012. In 1970 this figure was 70% but this fell to 33% in 2012, largely due to the rise of natural gas as an energy source. However, as the price of natural gas goes up, its use as an energy source has begun to diminish, hence the increase in coal-fired electricity generation.
As coal-fired electricity generation produces, more CO2 than natural gas, the UK’s CO2 output is actually increasing, despite what many other reports may insist.
What’s also worrying is that since 2003 there has been around a 9% increase in the number of UK households vulnerable to ‘fuel poverty’. It was also revealed that illnesses caused by cold homes costs the NHS nearly £1 billion every year, whilst 7,800 people die annually from living in cold homes.
In related news, it was recently announced that energy regulator Ofgem will be conducting an investigation into the ‘big six’ gas and electricity providers, which could lead to a major overhaul of the UK’s energy sector. It will see the companies come under intense scrutiny following further rises in energy costs, despite the companies making massive profits year on year, and is the first investigation of its kind to be carried out.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has stated that should his party win the next general election, he will freeze tariffs in 2015.
Article by Brett Janes, appearing courtesy 2GreenEnergy.