This winter is looking absolutely grim. Supply problems for shops, staff shortages, health services on the verge of collapse it just gets bleaker and bleaker.
The latest kick in the nuts is energy prices are expected to surge once again. From the Irish News:
RISING costs have left the average consumer in the north paying £1,000 more for energy than last year, amid the worst price shock since the 1970s.
Northern Ireland’s Utility Regulator has warned that soaring wholesale gas costs mean domestic gas bills could increase by another 50 per cent, or £300, this winter, with electricity bills set to rise 20 per cent.
Home heating oil, used by two-thirds of households in the north, is also at a three-year high after doubling in a year.
The Consumer Council said a 20 per cent rise in road fuel since last year could leave some households with oil-fired burners and with longer daily commutes, more than £1,200 worse off this year than in 2020.
Yikes. The reasons for the rise are varied and complex but no matter what they are, low-income households are due for a cold expensive winter.
To play devil’s advocate could this energy crisis be the shock we need to shake us out of our fossil fuel complacency?
Just as Covid showed us that there were better ways of working and living, the energy crisis can show us that there are alternatives to our reliance on overseas fossil fuels.
Better insulated homes, heat pumps, electric cars, hydrogen etc. It has been easy to pay lip service to these new technologies as long as fossil fuels have been cheap.
My own opinion is that we should concentrate on Renewable Energy backed up with next-generation nuclear power.
Passive housing standards should apply to all new homes and we need to start an extensive programme of retrofitting older houses.
In the meantime, get your fleeces on. It is looking like a long winter.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.