Friday 18 October 2013


Generating electricity since 1889

Many of Hafal's clients - both users and carers - suffer disproportionately from increasing fuel bills. This is because many of them have low incomes and therefore heat and light represents a substantial proportion of their unavoidable expenditure. It costs just as much to keep warm whether you are rich or poor.

So what about the current hikes in fuel bills which the press and politicians are so exercised about?

I won't enter the debate about whether an enforced price freeze would be sensible or effective - you can't do anything about it right now.

Shopping around for cheaper prices is worth doing although there is some doubt about whether that is wise during the time when suppliers are matching each others rises; if you go for a variable rate you may just find that your new supplier puts up prices a few days later.

Certainly worth looking for a fixed rate - quite quickly before all the rates rise - and the best advice on this can be obtained from that annoying but ultimately informative telly consumer pundit Martin Lewis - follow this link. Incidentally this website is what I use for advice on just about anything to do with savings, utilities, etc - it's an excellent one-stop shop.

And don't forget the other side of the equation, namely reducing consumption through insulation, smart timing of heating devices, etc - if you haven't addressed those opportunities quite aggressively already you might be surprised by what you can save. But be wary of very expensive options - you might never recover the cost of new windows or a "fuel-efficient" boiler for example.

The price hikes have also drawn attention to the hidden costs loaded onto fuel bills by successive governments which have got nothing to do with market forces or the wholesale cost of economic fuels but are imposed in the name of the environment - or, to put it another way, as a subsidy for opportunistic businesses and rich people who produce ludicrously expensive electricity using windmills turning unpredictably in the wind and photocells catching those scant rays of sunshine which occasionally strike these islands.

It must be a matter of doubt whether these cranky projects make any difference to global warming in the context of massive industrialisation of the emerging third world economies. But meanwhile poor people are being beggared by the hidden costs - about £130 a year at present and this will rise to £270.

If the cost was worthwhile it would be fairer to raise the money through taxation. But some realists suggest saving the money and bringing forward commissioning of nuclear capacity on the grounds that it's clean, cheap and reliable - and Chinese businesses are queuing up to build the power stations for us.

If anybody feels strongly about having to pay these subsidies through fuel bills take a look at the Soaraway Sun's campaign here.