Personal Finance

You could be told to turn off the lights and take shorter showers to avoid blackouts this winter

Is the British reality this winter going to involve taking shorter showers, turning off lights and lowering the thermostat to avoid blackouts? NimbleFins looks into what might really happen.

Britons could be urged to turn off the lights and lower the heating this winter in emergency plans to prevent blackouts.

Taking shorter showers, turning down the thermostat and using fewer lights could be the reality for the country as Russia turns the screw on the West.

Russia has vowed to cut supplies to Europe after countries imposed sanctions on the nation and its oligarchs in response to the war.

The EU has agreed in principal to cut gas use by 15% between August and March and the UK is looking at similar plans.

National Grid chiefs met with leaders of energy-intensive industries to thrash out plans to reduce their usage during supply shortages.

They could pay industries to switch off to keep the lights on elsewhere.

Similar payments could be offered to households to wait to use electricity when there is peak supply such as from high wind or solar power production. However British Gas and Shell have both said they did not have plans to do so this winter.

Under the blueprint, obtained by the Sunday Telegraph, pleas to reduce energy usage could be issued on television and radio adverts.

Two weeks ago Russia's Gazprom was due to cut supplies through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to a fifth of capacity.

The EU has since agreed to cut gas use by 15% between August and March.

EU energy chief Kadri Simson admitted its plans would need to be made more severe if Russia completely cut off gas in a colder-than-average winter.

Germany has already started a national campaign urging people to cut gas use in a bid to store enough to see the country through winter.

The city of Augsburg is looking to reduce heating in its public buildings, has turned off its fountains, lowered the temperature of its swimming pools and is even looking to turn off some traffic lights.

The country has urged its citizens to take shorter showers, reduce fridge temperatures by 1C and better insulate homes. Germans with their own pools are also banned from heating them. In the UK, ministers are hoping the high cost of energy will naturally make people use less, meaning they can avoid telling the public what to do.

A month ago, energy consultancy firm Cornwall Insight predicted fuel bills could rise to £3,244 from October, before hitting £3,363 in January.

The UK Government played down fears of blackouts. A spokeswoman said: “The UK has no issues with either gas or electricity supply, and the government is fully prepared for any scenario, even those that are extreme and very unlikely to occur.

“National Grid Gas has standard, long-standing emergency procedures in place to protect the integrity of Britain's gas network in the extremely unlikely event of a supply emergency. Ministers are not involved in this process."

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

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