Most governments try to educate their citizens as to the benefits of reducing energy consumption through public service ads and other similar tactics. But England and Wales seem to have stumbled on a far more effective way to cut energy usage: raise the price of energy.
As utility bills rose a full 28 percent in those areas between 2005 and 2011, energy consumption fell by a remarkable 25 percent, according to a new report from the UK's Office for National Statistics (pdf).
In order to lower their utility costs, residents of England and Wales have taken steps to make their homes more energy efficient. Only 44 percent of homes had roof insulation in 2008, compared to 60 percent in 2011. As the U.K. started to require energy ratings of homes and appliances that were put on sale, owners were incentivized to purchase more energy-efficient homes, washers, and refrigerators. In a country where two thirds of energy consumption comes from natural gas, many households improved their hot water and heating systems as well.
Though England and Wales have shown how this kind of reduction in energy usage can be done, the same is expected to happen in the U.S. in the coming years. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that energy efficiency improvements will reduce the country's energy use per person between now and 2040.
Photo: John M