Thicker sweaters and new showerheads: six ways to reduce gas consumption | Energy bills

gGovernments across Europe are preparing for gas shortages this winter and are carrying out public information campaigns to try to reduce consumption. In Germany, floodlights at public monuments were turned off and showers turned cold in municipal swimming pools and sports halls.

Amid fears that Russia could cut off the flow of gas to Europe, having already cut the continent’s supply by 75%, the EU has asked member states to cut use by 15% and Germany went further, targeting a 20% reduction to avoid winter shortages.

Various methods have been launched to reduce energy consumption, ranging from asking the public to take shorter showers in Hamburg to the new motto developed in the Netherlands, “zet de knop om”or “lower the knob” on the heater.

In the UK, ministers appear opposed to such intervention, with a Downing Street spokesman saying on Monday that gas and electricity consumption was a “decision for individuals”. Officials have raised the possibility of asking the public to reduce their energy consumption, but Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who is likely to be the next chancellor if Liz Truss is chosen as prime minister, is said to be against the idea.

The UK is less dependent than the continent on Russian gas, but there are growing concerns about power cuts if Vladimir Putin cuts supplies to zero. A study by city analysts Bernstein using data collected by Cambridge Architectural Research for the government looked at the options that could make the biggest difference, reducing gas consumption by almost a third in the best cases. Here we look at the measurements.

1. Lower the thermostat one degree, from 20C to 19C – estimated gas consumption saving 7%

Gas demand doubles in winter when households turn on the heating. About 80% of household gas demand comes from space heating, with the remaining 20% ​​being used for hot water and cooking. The International Energy Agency said if Europeans took ownership of their thermostats to some degree, it would save significant amounts of gas and drastically reduce the need for Russian imports.

2. Lower the thermostat an additional degreeat 18C – estimated gas consumption saving 7%

A more bullish public information campaign can entice consumers to go further. Pujarini Ghosh, Principal Investigator at Bernstein, said: “Some people are already taking steps to limit their energy use to save money on their bills. A public information campaign could generalize it. Lowering the thermostat and turning off the heating in unoccupied rooms could be effective and easy to implement.

3. Wear a thick sweater at home – gas consumption estimated at 4%

Researchers have estimated that wearing warmer clothing could encourage people to lower the thermostat between 0.5°C and 2°C, although they admit there is little research on how wearing extra layers affects people’s perception of temperature and whether they turn down the heat afterwards.

Any direct government advice on this could lead to a backlash similar to that suffered by energy companies last year, when advice for keeping warm, such as cuddling pets and doing house laps, was widely condemned. . Robert Buckley, of consultancy Cornwall Insight, said: “A campaign should be run with sensitivity. We have seen vendors pilloried for being condescending. If this is a government campaign, it should explain the overall insecurity in the market that is driving the need to reduce usage.

4. Delay heating on and turn it off earlier next year – estimated gas consumption savings of 3-6%

Many households turn on the heaters when they turn their calendars from September to October. But delaying central heating on by a month until November, and turning it off in early February rather than March, could dent national consumption. However, researchers warn that heating demand in October and March is still relatively low compared to the peak winter months.

5. Install a water-efficient showerhead and limit boiler use – estimated gas savings of 4%

More efficient showerheads can reduce water and gas consumption – heating water accounts for around 20% of household gas consumption. “Low flow” showerheads are estimated to reduce water consumption by approximately 40%. Limiting boiler use to twice a day can also help.

6. Turn off the heating in unused rooms – gas consumption estimated at 3%

The Bernstein researchers based their calculations on an average household size of 2.4 people, with 2.7 bedrooms. In their analysis, they argue that it leaves at least one room vacant at all times. If consumers know which rooms they use and when, and use radiator valves to turn off the heating, they can significantly reduce energy consumption.

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