Thursday 22 April 2010

That's Where All the Power has Gone

Let's use more statistics to push our heads even further into the ground concerning energy efficiency in the home.

Flicking through our household bills, I discover that electricity only makes up a third of our billable energy usage. The remainder is natural gas which is significantly cheaper to the consumer per kilowatt-hour. The historical availability and economy of natural gas may explain why the UK has such a low per capita electricity consumption compared to the rest of the developed world.

The vast majority of our household heating and hot water is provided by gas, so we've installed a solar panel to heat water to help the environment. We also subscribe to a "green" tariff from our electricity provider which effectively means that 50% is from renewable energy. As discussed earlier, the majority (about 70%) of our per capita electricity footprint is controlled by others in the form of business usage, transportation, etc. I'll call that "Community Electricity" and note that, as householders, we only have indirect control as to its generation and consumption.

This all means that reducing our household electricity usage has an even smaller impact on the consumption of non-renewable (fossil) energy sources than I originally thought.

Surely, it would be far more effective for the government to tax natural gas heavily and invest the money in research and development of (subsidised) sustainable energy sources.

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