Homeowners suffering from energy price “rocket and feather effect”

Homeowners seem to be suffering from the “rocket and feather” effect, which means that when wholesale gas prices rise energy companies are all too quick to pass on the full cost but when they fall they come down very slowly, with energy companies pocketing the difference. That’s according to the Building & Engineering Services Association (B&ES), who say the absence of any meaningful price reductions has laid bare the cynicism of energy companies, with figures showing that households are being charged at least three times the price they pay for gas.

B&ES spokesman Mark Oakes said:

“When wholesale gas prices rise energy companies are very quick to pass on those increases but when they fall they drag their heels, waiting and waiting. The rocket and feather effect is certainly in full evidence at present. Wholesale gas prices paid by suppliers are at a four-year low and have halved in the last six months, yet bills have come down by tiny amounts. There is no excuse; energy companies really should be passing on savings from falling wholesale costs.

“No more evidence is really needed that to get energy use down and in turn get these bills down homeowners need to take their own action.”

To help homeowners do this, B&ES have issued their top 5 tips:

  • Invest in a new boiler – boilers account for about 55 per cent of what you spend in a year on energy bills, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference. Replacing an old gas boiler with an A-rated high efficiency condensing boiler could save you over £300 a year.
  • Upgrade household heating controls – research undertaken by Salford University showed that installing a modern room thermostat and a full set of thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) could reduce energy costs by 40%.
  • Turn appliances off when not is use – £1 billion worth of energy is wasted in the UK every year by appliances left on standby. Switching off the standby on gadgets and appliances could save you around over £75 a year on your bills.
  • Improve insulation – there are many simple yet effective ways to insulate your home, which can significantly reduce heat loss while lowering your heating bills; for example a quarter of heat is lost through the roof and so upgrading loft insulation to 270mm thickness could save £150 a year for a semi detached house.
  • Have the boiler serviced – a well maintained boiler is not only much less prone to breakdown but will also operate more efficiently, using less fuel. And it’s not just money at stake; older boilers that have rarely been serviced could present a serious risk of causing potentially lethal carbon monoxide poisoning.

All B&ES companies providing domestic services to homeowners are TrustMark members and all B&ES members that undertake gas work are also Gas Safe registered.

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