UK electricity bills could increase by £90 annually after Brexit if calls to scrap European Union regulations on the energy efficiency standards of domestic appliances and lightbulbs are approved, making way for less-efficient Chinese-made products, according to a new report from the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit.
The new report published by the London-based Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), Made in China: importing higher energy bills, starts out by highlighting the underlying issue behind numerous issues the United Kingdom now faces: Six months into the two-year process that will see the UK leave the European Union, the nation faces a litany of choices about which laws, rules, and regulations it will retain once outside the jurisdiction of European lawmakers. There are a number of high-priority and high-profile issues — such as the UK’s participation in the Internal Energy Market and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), not to mention whether the UK can meet its renewable energy targets — but low-profile issues don’t necessarily translate to low-impact.
Specifically, the new ECIU report focuses on EU-led energy efficiency regulations — regulations which some proponents in the UK are advocating are dropped post-Brexit. These EU-led energy efficiency regulations are highly effective and have resulted in significant increases in how the UK uses its energy. Specifically, UK households are wasting less electricity, with electricity use falling to levels last seen before 1970. Further, the ECIU commissioned research back in 2015 which found that 9 out of 10 British people support tough energy efficiency regulations on domestic appliances.
It’s important also to note that while the price of energy in the UK has definitely increased over time, this is due primarily to the increase in fossil fuel prices, and has been remedied by energy efficiency measures and EU standards implemented back in 2008, which has resulted in the average dual fuel bill dropping by £290.
“We know that British people like strong energy efficiency standards and don’t like wasting money around the home on power-hungry appliances,” explained Ann Jones, Vice-Chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes. “And when we add all those savings together they mean fewer new power plants pumping out less of the pollution that puts the balance of our climate at risk.
“We should be very proud as a country that since 1992 by taking sensible steps like introducing product standards the UK has led the G7 in reducing emissions to tackle climate change.”
Removing these energy efficiency regulations might seem like a good move to minimize excessive bureaucratic red tape, but the implications of removing these particular regulations are a lot more impactful than many may think — to the tune of £90 on annual electricity bills for UK residents. The ECIU analyzed only seven of the best-selling appliances and lightbulbs in the UK and found that if all homes in the UK opted for less-efficient options — such as those offered by cheaper Chinese models made without the benefit of energy efficiency regulations — annual electricity consumption in the UK would jump by approximately 3.5%.
That’s an incredible jump, considering we’re only talking about domestic home appliances such as washing machines, fridge-freezers, televisions, laptop computers, and microwaves. In fact, for comparison, UK energy company EDF’s new £20 billion-plus Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant is expected to provide approximately 7% of the UK’s annual power demand — compare that with a 3.5% jump in power demand if less efficient products were brought onto the market.
“Once outside the EU, Britain will be able to set its own standards on the efficiency of our fridges and hoovers, but heeding calls to throw current standards on a regulation bonfire could leave UK homeowners with an unexpected hike on their bills,” said Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. “Behind the scenes, successive British governments have led the way in shaping these standards, driving industry to make innovative, less wasteful products and so saving UK bill payers cash. The proof is in the lightbulb which will now last for decades and cost as little as 98p thanks to LED technology.”
“The fact is that EU energy efficiency standards have saved UK consumers money, reduced the need for more power plants and enhanced energy security,” added Michael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy, UCL. “Keeping pace with these standards in future will be vital for British manufacturers’ selling on the continent.
“The global trend is towards less wasteful appliances and it’s hard to conceive of any circumstances in which it could make sense to use Brexit as an excuse to weaken efficiency standards here.”
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