Death, taxes and climbing energy bills

In a world dogged by uncertainties, there are few things on which we can depend. One is that electricity bills will continue their inexorable rise

I’m not a fan of the talkative taxi driver, I simply want to go from A to B as quickly and efficiently as possible. I don’t want to know about which famous person was in the cab last week, or asked which football team I support and why I’m visiting a random suburb of Croydon, Berlin or Istanbul.

My solution, if they simply wont take a hint, is to  nd a subject to talk about which means the conversation is one way. At least you can switch off and enjoy the scenery while the taxi driver shares his extreme opinion with me. In Edinburgh ask: ‘How is the tram?’ In London: ‘Are you going to the Olympics?’ In Germany, drop in that you’re thinking about going to Greece on holiday. Mentioning Greece in Germany is akin to stating that you are a direct descendent of Bomber Harris.

2012 is a tough year to call. Will the Olympics power the UK economy away from recession? Will Greece  nally put us out of our misery and leave the euro, heralding a return to the Drachma, cheap holidays and an excess of Ouzo and Retsina down at Nik’s Taverna?

Who knows? But it’s a world of contrast at the moment. On one side we have the merchants of doom talking us off an economic cliff, on the other we have a raft of good news stories. Rolls-Royce – the cars, not the jet engines – recently achieved its best sales ever, selling more cars than it did in its record year of 1978. There are similar stories at Jaguar, Land Rover and Mini. Germany has record low levels of unemployment and even the UK construction sector sounded positive at the end of 2011.

Car use drops

On the energy front, car fuel use dropped by 3 per cent in 2011, and on 28 December UK wind power produced a record 12.2 per cent of the nation’s electricity.

What have all these shenanigans got to do with lighting and energy ef ciency? Well Routledge’s paradox of energy ef ciency has been born and it goes as follows. no matter what happens in the world’s political or economic spectrum, the cost of energy is going to rise continuously. Wind turbines could be built for free and the electricity will still be more expensive than burning coal. Oil could pour from the sky and someone will  nd a way to keep the price high.

We’ve seen it already. We are using less oil because of the global slowdown, so Mr Ahmadinejad is threatening to pinch the supply pipe by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, even suggesting it caused the price of oil to leap, great if your an oil-producing country. Inundated with samples

Okay, let’s cut to the chase. Where is this rant taking us? Well for the past 12 months I’ve been inundated with samples of LED lamps for benchtesting, at times it’s been like a Blue Peter appeal for milk bottle tops.

In Routledge Towers, I’ve run out of suitably quailified lamp sockets to  t them in for ‘long-term tests’. The positive side of this excess is that lighting-related energy consumption at Routledge Towers has been squeezed to the absolute minimum.

However all my work scrimping and retrofitting has been scuppered by Scottish and Southern Energy – with a new electricity bill. I managed to reduce consumption by 20 per cent last year, and I’ve been rewarded with a a thumping increase in the price per unit, which has leapt to 14.28p per kilowatt-hour, a 30 per cent increase. Which means I’ll be paying more this year. Thanks guys.

There we have it, energy ef ciency and tree huggery is a thankless task.

Follow Gordon on Twitter: @gordonroutledge

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