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UK’s summer heatwaves ‘could cost families extra £300’

Compare the Market says air conditioning units and fans could significantly boost bills

 

The UK’s scorching summer could cost households an extra £300 on their energy bills.

That’s the suggestion from Compare the Market, which says the hottest temperatures since 1976 have caused many people to turn on their air conditioning units or fans.

The research shows an average air conditioning unit could consume around 21,600 watts if used all day and night, significantly increasing energy consumption and bills.

It says even using cooling technology for eight hours a day could cost more than a pound daily, adding up to around £95 more to bills over the months of May, June and July.

The report shows 43% of UK households are considering taking further longer-term measures to keep cool in the future and 40% have recently purchased new air conditioners, fans and even paddling pools.

People between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most inclined to pay more in order to remain cool, with half claiming they would happily pay the additional costs.

Peter Earl, Head of Energy at Compare the Market, said: “As a nation unaccustomed to excessive heat, many families have turned to household air conditioning systems to stay cool.

“However, these systems are both expensive to run and often require a hefty upfront payment. The monthly cost of air conditioning can come as a real shock to families who are only used to paying costly energy bills throughout the winter months to stay warm.

 

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Civil nuclear regulation if there’s no Brexit deal

A scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without agreement (a ‘no deal’ scenario) remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome.

Negotiations are progressing well and both we and the EU continue to work hard to seek a positive deal. However, it’s our duty as a responsible government to prepare for all eventualities, including ‘no deal’, until we can be certain of the outcome of those negotiations.

For two years, the government has been implementing a significant programme of work to ensure the UK will be ready from day 1 in all scenarios, including a potential ‘no deal’ outcome in March 2019.

It has always been the case that as we get nearer to March 2019, preparations for a no deal scenario would have to be accelerated. Such an acceleration does not reflect an increased likelihood of a ‘no deal’ outcome. Rather it is about ensuring our plans are in place in the unlikely scenario that they need to be relied upon.

This series of technical notices sets out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in a ‘no deal’ scenario, so they can make informed plans and preparations.

This guidance is part of that series.

Also included is an overarching framing notice explaining the government’s overarching approach to preparing the UK for this outcome in order to minimise disruption and ensure a smooth and orderly exit in all scenarios.

We are working with the devolved administrations on technical notices and we will continue to do so as plans develop.

Purpose

This notice explains to the civil nuclear industry and stakeholders how the sector will be affected in the UK in the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in March 2019 with no agreement in place.

This notice covers:

  • nuclear safeguards
  • ownership and movement of nuclear material, equipment and technology
  • management of spent fuel and radioactive waste
  • reporting and notifications to the European Commission.

Nuclear safeguards

Before 29 March 2019

The European Commission currently implements nuclear safeguards in respect of nuclear material for all EU countries, including the UK.

The UK has already passed new legislation so that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) can oversee domestic safeguards instead of Euratom and signed new international agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to replace the existing trilateral agreements between the IAEAEuratom and the UK.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

On exit from the EU, a new domestic nuclear safeguards regime will come into force.

Implications

The new regime will be run by the ONR, which already has regulatory oversight of nuclear safety and nuclear security. The new regime is not dependent on there being a deal with the EU and Euratom.

The ONR will publish guidance on the new inspection arrangements on its website.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

All operators in the UK civil nuclear sector will need to comply with the new domestic safeguards regime as it applies to them. This will be underpinned by regulations and administered by the ONR. The regime will include new domestic arrangements for nuclear material accountancy. Operators are encouraged to submit their views on the draft Nuclear Safeguards Regulations, which are open to public consultation until 14 September 2018.

Ownership of special fissile material

Before 29 March 2019

Under Euratom Treaty arrangements, all special fissile material in any EU country is legally “owned” by Euratom. Operators that hold the legal title to the material have the unlimited right to use and consume the material as long as they comply with obligations in the Euratom Treaty.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

On exit from the EU, Euratom ownership of special fissile material in the UK will end.

Implications

Operators that hold the legal title to special fissile material in the UK will have full ownership from this date, and their associated rights will remain unaffected.

For special fissile material on Euratom territory, Euratom rules will continue to apply until the material is exported from Euratom territory.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

Operators with special fissile material on UK or Euratom territory will not need to take any action in relation to the ownership of special fissile material. Operators’ legal title to this material and any associated rights will be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal.

Supply contracts for nuclear material

Before 29 March 2019

Under current arrangements operators in the EU, including the UK, are required to obtain approval from the Euratom Supply Agency and, depending on the nature of the contract, the European Commission, before they conclude a supply contract for nuclear material.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

On exit from the EU, Euratom Supply Agency approval will no longer be required for contracts agreed by UK-established operators, except where these involve an EU27-established operator. For EU27-established operators, Euratom Supply Agency procedures will continue to apply as currently.

Implications

The EU has set out its view that some existing contracts will need to be re-approved. Further details of the actions to be taken are set out below.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

The steps that UK and EU27 operators may wish to consider taking will depend on when their contract was, or is due to be, concluded.

On exit from the EU, some existing supply contracts will need to be re-approved as a result of the UK’s withdrawal. This will apply only to supply contracts that:

  • involve both a UK-established operator and an EU27-established operator
  • have been co-signed by the Euratom Supply Agency prior to the UK’s withdrawal
  • have a supply period which extends beyond the date of the UK’s withdrawal.

For existing supply contracts of this type, UK and EU27 operators affected should engage with the Euratom Supply Agency on the process for re-approval and agree with their counterparts on any steps that will need to be taken to manage the period during which this process takes place. We will continue to work with the UK operators concerned to ensure that appropriate contingency supply arrangements are in place.

For UK-established operators, Euratom Supply Agency approval will only be required after the day of withdrawal if the contract involves an EU27-established operator. Operators will need to comply with standard Euratom Supply Agency processes.

For EU27-established operators, Euratom Supply Agency procedures will continue to apply as currently.

Further information

Further details on the Euratom Supply Agency’s standard procedures can be found on the Euratom Supply Agency’s website.

Export licence arrangements

Before 29 March 2019

The controls that apply to the export and transfer of dual-use goods and technology are implemented by the EU Dual-Use Regulation (428/2009). At present, an export licence is required to move certain sensitive nuclear materials, facilities and equipment between the UK and other EU countries.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

On exit from the EU, there will be a continued requirement for operators to obtain export licences for certain sensitive nuclear materials, facilities and equipment.

Implications

Further details of the export licence arrangements that will apply are set out in the Exporting Controlled Goods technical notice.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

Operators can find further detail on export licensing and information on the steps they will need to take in the Exporting Controlled Goods technical notice.

Further information

Further information on how to apply for export licences is available from the Export Control Joint Unit.

Import licence arrangements

Before 29 March 2019

The current import licensing regime set out in the Notice to Importers 2867 means that the import of relevant nuclear materials from EU countries does not require operators to obtain an import licence.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

The Notice to Importers 2867 will be updated in time for Exit Day to set out the arrangements that will apply following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Implications

Under the updated arrangements, importers may need to obtain an import licence for imports of relevant nuclear materials from the EU. The UK will engage with importers on any new arrangements that will apply from this date and provide further guidance on these.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

Importers should check the updated Notice to Importers for details of the import licence arrangements that will apply after the date of the UK’s exit from the EU. Further guidance will also be published on the website below.

Further information

Further information can be found on the import control arrangements GOV.UK page.

Nuclear Cooperation Agreements

Before 29 March 2019

Euratom is currently party to a number of Nuclear Cooperation Agreements (NCAs) with third countries which provide the framework for the UK’s civil nuclear trade with these countries.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s ‘no deal’

Discussions to agree bilateral NCA arrangements with priority countries are on track to be completed before the UK leaves the EU, and the UK has already signed new bilateral NCAs with a number of third countries. This will ensure that civil nuclear trade can continue unimpeded.

Implications

Civil nuclear trade and cooperation will continue under the UK’s bilateral agreements.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

Operators do not need to take any action in relation to NCAs.

Further information

Further information is available from the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement Factsheet.

Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste

Before 29 March 2019

The current Euratom arrangements provide the framework for the movement of spent fuel and radioactive waste between countries. This includes authorisations for shipments under the Supervision and Control of Shipments of Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Directive 2006 (Directive 2006/117/Euratom – “the 2006 Directive”).

Under these arrangements, a number of EU countries have contracts in place for the reprocessing of spent fuel and the treatment and processing of radioactive waste in the UK. The UK government’s policy is not to accept overseas origin radioactive waste for disposal in the UK except in specific circumstances which are set out in the relevant UK government policy documents.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

The UK’s current arrangements for the reprocessing of spent fuel and treatment of radioactive waste will continue after the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom.

On exit from the EU, the process for authorising new shipments of spent fuel and radioactive waste from the UK to EU27 will change to reflect the fact that the UK will no longer be within the EU. The UK will engage with operators on any new arrangements that will apply for the authorisation of new shipments of spent fuel and radioactive waste from the EU27 to the UK, and will provide further guidance on these.

Beyond this, arrangements for new shipments of spent fuel and radioactive waste from EU27 countries to the UK for the purposes of management will not be affected. Under EU rules, there will be some small changes applicable to shipments of radioactive waste for the purposes of disposal, but the UK government’s policy on accepting such shipments will remain unaffected.

Implications

The management of EU27 spent fuel and radioactive waste in the UK will continue in line with existing contractual arrangements.

For new shipments of spent fuel and radioactive waste between the UK and EU27, all operators will need to comply with the arrangements that apply to third countries when shipping spent fuel and radioactive waste from the UK to EU27 countries. Further guidance will be provided on the arrangements that will apply for authorisations of spent fuel and radioactive waste from the EU27 to the UK.

The government will continue working with the Scottish government, Welsh government and Northern Ireland Civil Service to ensure that these arrangements work for the whole of the UK.

The current arrangements that determine which state has ultimate responsibility for the safe and responsible disposal of any spent fuel and radioactive waste generated will not be affected by the UK’s exit for either the UK or EU27 countries.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

The management of spent fuel and radioactive waste in the UK and EU27 will continue as now. UK and EU27 operators will not need to take any action.

Please note that if the existing contract is considered to be a supply contract under Euratom Supply Agency arrangements, operators should check the section of this technical notice on ‘Supply Contracts for Nuclear Material’.

For new shipments, all operators wishing to ship radioactive waste or spent fuel from the UK to an EU27 country will need to comply with the arrangements for third countries as set out in the 2006 directive. This means that shipments from the UK to EU27 countries will require authorisation from competent authorities in both the originating and destination states, and that EU27 competent authorities will no longer be subject to the current two-month deadline to grant authorisations.

Operators wishing to secure new authorisations to ship radioactive waste or spent fuel from EU27 countries to the UK should check the website below for further guidance of the arrangements that will apply after this date.

EU27 operators will be able to continue to enter into management contracts for spent fuel and radioactive waste in the UK.

Under the Community Framework for the Responsible and Safe Management of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Directive (Directive 2011/70/EURATOM), EU27 operators will need to comply with the arrangements that apply to third countries prior to any shipment of radioactive waste for the purposes of disposal in the UK. This will not affect new shipments of spent fuel and radioactive waste in the UK for the purposes of processing, treatment or reprocessing.

Further information

Further guidance on authorisations for shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel will be published on the radioactive waste and spent fuel GOV.UK page.

Reporting and notification obligations under Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty

Before 29 March 2019

Under Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty, the UK government (on behalf of operators) submits information to the European Commission on plans to dispose of radioactive waste. Operators must receive a positive opinion from the Commission before obtaining domestic environmental permits or proceeding with a project.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

On exit from the EU, the requirement for the UK to notify the European Commission of plans for the disposal of radioactive waste will no longer apply.

Implications

Operators will not need to secure the Commission’s opinion before obtaining domestic environmental permits or proceeding with their radioactive waste disposal plans.

The UK will consult with stakeholders on any future measures to keep neighbouring states informed of these types of activity in the UK that will apply after this date.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

UK operators should continue to follow the requirement to notify the Commission of plans to dispose of radioactive waste until the date of the UK’s exit from the EU. This includes continuing to work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to complete and return submissions and secure Commission opinions.

Further information

Further details of the application of the current requirements are set out in Commission Recommendation 2010/635/Euratom.

Reporting and notification obligations under Article 41 of the Euratom Treaty

Before 29 March 2019

Under Article 41 of the Euratom Treaty operators with plans for certain nuclear investments must report the details of these to the Commission. The type of nuclear investments that require notification are defined in Council Regulation (Euratom) 2587/1999, and the required content of the reports is set out in Commission Regulation (EC) 1209/2000.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

On exit from the EU, the requirement for nuclear operators to inform the Commission of investment projects in the UK civil nuclear sector will no longer apply. The EU Regulations defining the content of Article 41 submissions (Council Regulation 2587/1999 and Commission Regulation 1209/2000) as they apply in the UK will be repealed.

Implications

UK and EU operators will no longer need to inform the Commission of planned investments in the UK civil nuclear sector after the date of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

UK and EU operators should continue to follow the requirement to inform the Commission of planned investments in the UK civil nuclear sector until the date of the UK’s exit from the EU. This includes continuing to complete and return submissions and discuss the submissions with the Commission. After the date of the UK’s exit from the EU, operators will no longer need to comply with this requirement.

Further information

Further details of the current requirements are set out in Council Regulation (Euratom) 2587/1999 and Commission Regulation (EC) 1209/2000.

Notification of radioactive source shipments

Before 29 March 2019

Before any shipment of radioactive sources between EU countries, radioactive source holders must obtain a prior written declaration from the receiver of the source, noting that they have complied with national requirements for the safe storage, use and disposal of the source being received. These requirements are set out in Council Regulation 1493/93/Euratom.

After 29 March 2019 if there’s no deal

UK radioactive source holders who plan to send material to other EU states will continue to comply with Regulation 1493/93 by obtaining prior written declarations until the date of withdrawal. The UK will engage with operators on any new arrangements that will apply after this date, and provide further guidance on these.

Implications

The UK will provide further guidance on the arrangements that will apply after the date of the UK’s exit from the EU. Any changes to these notification procedures will not prevent the shipment of radioactive sources into the UK after exit.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

Operators should continue to comply with the notification requirements for radioactive source shipments until the date of the UK’s exit from the EU. Operators should check the website below for further guidance of the arrangements that will apply after this date.

Further information

Further guidance will be published on the radioactive waste and spent fuel GOV.UK page.

This notice is meant for guidance only. You should consider whether you need separate professional advice before making specific preparations.

It is part of the government’s ongoing programme of planning for all possible outcomes. We expect to negotiate a successful deal with the EU.

UK Government energy stats show renewables provided almost 30% of electricity generation in 2017

he figures published in late July in the Digest of UK Energy Statistics confirm that 29.3% of the UK’s electricity was generated from renewables in 2017 – up from 24.5% in 2016. Half of this came from wind, which provided 14.8% of the UK’s power (8.6% from onshore wind and 6.2% from offshore) – up from 11% in 2016.

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The publication also confirms that the carbon intensity of the UK’s power supply has fallen to record low levels. On average, a kilowatt hour of electricity generated last year produced 225 grams of C02, down from 483g in 2012. This reduction has been driven by a huge reduction in the use of coal and the rapid growth of zero carbon renewables.

The contribution of onshore wind grew by 39% in 2017, while offshore wind grew by 27%. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which published the figures, said this was due to increases in capacity, greater load factors and higher wind speeds.

In 2017, Scottish renewable generation made up approximately 25% of total UK renewable generation and approximately 69% of Scotland’s electricity consumption came from renewables in 2017 – up 15% on the previous year.

RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Today’s record figures demonstrate how fast renewable energy is transforming the way we generate power to create an energy system fit for the future. This is a radical shift, and we will see ever more low-cost renewables meeting flexible demand from homes, electric vehicles and new manufacturing processes and industries.”

Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2017 key points

• In 2017, gas accounted for 40% of UK electricity generation, down from 42% in 2016. Nuclear accounted for 21%, down marginally from 2016. Hydro, wind and solar accounted for a record 20% of generation, up by 27% on 2016, with thermal renewables accounting for a further 9.4%. Coal’s share was down 27% on 2016 at 6.7% of total generation in 2017.

• In 2017, UK energy production was up 0.4% on a year earlier. The rise was driven by growth from wind, solar and hydro and bioenergy and waste. Overall fossil fuel production contracted.

• Imports and exports in 2017 were both up; overall net imports decreased though they still accounted for 36% of energy used in the UK.

• Primary energy consumption was down 1.2%; and on a temperature adjusted basis primary energy consumption was down 0.3% continuing the downward trend of the last ten years. UK temperatures were above normal with a decrease in heating degree days compared to 2016.

• Final energy consumption fell by 0.7% as demand for heating decreased with temperature adjusted final energy consumption up by 0.9% on 2016 levels, mainly due to increased energy use in transport.

• Fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy supply (including transport), but now account for 80.1%, a record low level. Supply from renewables increased, with their contribution accounting for 10.2% of final consumption.

• Provisional UK Government estimates suggest that overall emissions fell by 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) (3.2%) to 366.9 MtCO2 between 2016 and 2017, driven by the changes in electricity generation.

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UK nuclear regulator to prosecute EDF, Doosan over safety incident

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has notified EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd and Doosan Babcock of its intention to prosecute both companies over a non nuclear-related health and safety matter, the ONR said on Wednesday.

The charge relates to an incident in April at the Hinkley Point B nuclear plant owned by France’s EDF, which resulted in injury to a Doosan Babcock employee.

There was no radiological risk to workers or the public, the ONR said, giving no further details as the case is now the subject of active court proceedings.

“We are reviewing the charges against us and considering our response. As we would in any industrial safety incident of this nature we have and will continue to cooperate fully with the ONR,” an EDF Energy spokeswoman said by email.

Doosan Babcock, part of South Korea-based Doosan Group, said it has cooperated fully with the ONR during the investigation and acknowledged its intention to prosecute.

“As legal proceedings are pending we will not make any further comment at this stage,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale and Nina Chestney; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jan Harvey

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BILL BLOW Energy bills could jump by £100 a year despite government cap on prices

The increase comes despite the upcoming introduction of the government’s new price cap in December, which promises to keep costs under control.

Energy regulator, Ofgem, has already signed off a £47 a year increase in its energy safeguard tariff for vulnerable consumers this coming winter.

But energy analyst Cornwall Insight is predicting that both tariff caps could rise by another £50 to £55.

This means that by April next year, we could be paying £100 more on our bills.

Gareth Miller, chief executive of Cornwall Insight said: “Household energy prices are set to continue to rise despite Ofgem’s safeguard tariff or the government’s default price cap.

“Only if wholesale costs fall sharply will the pressure abate.”

Why prices are continuing to rise

Analysts have regularly warned that Ofgem’s price caps will do little to stop energy bill increases.

This is because the level the cap is set at depends on factors such as wholesale prices. As long as these continue to rise, our bills will too.

Stephen Murray, energy expert at comparison website MoneySuperMarket explained: “The price of standard variable tariffs has risen by around £140 on average (from the big six) since the policy announcement of an energy price cap by the government in May 2017.

Simplifying energy switch process boosts savings, study finds

The number of households switching energy supplier can be dramatically boosted by removing the requirement for users to provide details of their energy tariff and consumption, a pilot project has found.

A trial of 50,000 people showed that simplifying the switching process led to more than one in five people moving to a better deal, eight times as many as normal. They saved an average of £298 a year, or £3.3m collectively.

The success suggests minor reforms could tackle the energy market’s problem of poorer, older and less educated people paying over the odds for default tariffs, reducing the need for a major intervention such as the government’s price cap.

The energy regulator Ofgem worked with the comparison site Energyhelplineto pick 50,000 customers who had been on the default tariff of an unnamed big-six supplier for three years. The company was ScottishPower, the Guardian understands.

Rather than those consumers having to provide their existing tariff and energy usage in order to switch, as they usually do, the information was supplied automatically. That allowed the comparison site to send letters offering a personalised saving.

Between February and April, 22.4% of those in the trial switched as a result of the approach, compared to 2.6% for a control group of 5,000 who did not receive letters. Around half moved to an E.ON tariff negotiated by Energyhelpline. The rest chose other deals.

More than a quarter were over 75 and 71% chose to switch over the phone, suggesting a digital and age divide also holds back switching.

Far more people were encouraged to switch among the half who received letters with their existing supplier’s branding (26.9%) than the other half which had Ofgem branding (15%).

Ofgem hailed the trial as its most successful to date. “Offering a simplified collective switch and providing personalised savings can be a big help in giving these customers the confidence and reassurance they need to start a switch,” said Rob Salter-Church, interim executive director for consumers and markets.

The positive results have sparked plans for a bigger trial of 200,000 in the autumn, expected to involve either British Gas or SSE.

The energy regulator said, however, that it was too early to say if having energy tariff and consumption information pre-supplied would become the default way to switch in future.

In total, 3.27 million people switched in the first seven months of 2018, up 8% on the same period last year. There are fears, however, that switching could stall with the price cap lulling people into a false sense of protection and reducing switching savings.

A startup that promises to automatically switch energy supplier on households’ behalf won the backing of investors on Dragon’s Den on Sunday. Two of the dragons took a 3% stake in Look After My Bills for £120,000.

The company effectively recreates the Ofgem test, allowing customers to be automatically switched into the best offers on the market.

 

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Big Six energy companies set to lose 2.4 million customers in 2018: how to switch

If the number of switches continues at the current rate then the biggest suppliers will have lost 2.35 million customers to small and mid-size companies by the end of 2018, according to figures released by the industry trade body Energy UK.

British Gas announced its second price increase of the year last week. In the two days following the announcement there was a 40pc increasein switching activity, according to price comparison site Uswitch.

Small suppliers are rapidly gaining ground, with companies such as Bulb now boasting close…

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Switch on to LED lightbulbs before September’s halogen ban

From the end of this month halogen lightbulbs are to be removed from the market across Europe, with households expected to switch to LED lights – which cost more but last far longer and use much less electricity than energy-hungry halogens.

According to Philips, the lighting manufacturer, the average UK household has 10 halogen bulbs and uses them for 2.7 hours a day. If that is correct, then hundreds of millions of halogens are going to have to be replaced. So why are they heading for the scrap heap – and what do you have to do?

What is the ban? Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs were the first to go, in 2009, and in 2016 the phased removal of halogens began in an EU-wide effort to improve energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions. Halogens are hugely wasteful of energy – the Energy Saving Trust estimates that the typical halogen uses £11 of electricity a year while a replacement LED would use only £2 worth. What’s more, halogen bulbs typically fail after about two years, while LEDs should last for around 15 to 20 years on the same usage.

Do I have to replace all my halogens now? Don’t panic, you won’t have to whip them all out for fear of an EU fine. Replace with LEDs as and when the old halogen bulb expires.

Will shops stop selling halogens on 1 SeptemberNo. They will be able to sell their existing stock but won’t be able to reorder more. So if you are obsessed about keeping your halogens, then there’s still time to buy some. But you’ll be throwing money away in the long term.

Will the LEDs fit existing light sockets? In most cases, yes. You can buy “bayonet” or “edison” (screw-type) LED bulbs at most outlets. But there may be a problem if you have halogen lights fitted in your ceiling (especially common in kitchens) which are connected to transformers. According to Philips:“The low wattage equivalent LEDs sometimes mean some transformers cannot detect that the light is actually switched on and therefore lights can flicker. In this case it is worth seeking advice from your electrician.”

 

Is this a total ban? There remain a few types of halogens that are outside of the EU ban, for now. For example, there are some oven lights that are halogens that will still be permitted for sale, as well as some “capsule, linear, low-voltage reflector bulbs”, says Philips.

How do I know which LEDs to buyA generation brought up on bulb brightness expressed in terms such as 100w or 60w has to learn the new vocabulary of “lumens”. Wattage measures power or energy, while lumens measure light output. Broadly speaking, a 60w bulb gave off around 700 lumens, while a 100w one is equivalent to more than 1,300 lumens. But stores such as John Lewis still label LED lights primarily with watts; it says its 8.5w “classic” LED bulb is equivalent to a 75w incandescent bulb, while a 13.5w LED is equal to a 100w old-style bulb.

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British Gas loses 340,000 more accounts

British Gas lost 340,000 customer accounts in the UK in the first half of this year, the chief executive of the firm’s parent company has told the BBC.

The lost accounts represent about 270,000 customers.

However, Centrica chief Iain Conn said the rate of customer losses had halved since last year and he hoped numbers would stabilise.

His comments came as Centrica said operating profits at its consumer business had fallen by 20% to £430m.

Price cap

British Gas is the biggest energy supplier in the UK. It still has 3.5 million customers on standard variable tariffs, which are often the most expensive.

However, that number is down from 4.3 million at the start of the year as the company has encouraged customers to switch to cheaper fixed-rate deals ahead of a cap on more expensive tariffs that is expected to come into force at the end of this year.

The way the cap is worked out will be published in August and will vary around the UK according to regional market conditions. It will be reviewed and reset by the regulator, Ofgem, every six months.

Mr Conn told the BBC he remained concerned that the cap would mean some customers would end up paying more.

“Prices may well bunch around the level of the cap so some of the cheaper deals in the market may disappear which means that some customers will end up paying more.”

Instead he suggests ending the standard variable tariff as it now stands, so that no customer languishes forever on the same tariff but is prompted to change at some point.

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British Gas owner hints bills could rise for second time this year

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has hinted that bills could go up for a second time this year, after reporting a 20% drop in profits at its consumer arm and more customer account losses.

British Gas, the UK’s biggest energy supplier, lost 341,000 customer accounts in the UK in the first half of the year, although the rate of losses slowed. Operating profit at the business fell to £430m.

Centrica said it was keeping its tariffs under review, noting that wholesale energy prices had continued to rise since it increased its prices in April, and that a number of its rivals had raised their tariffs.

The 5.5% price rise in April, taking the average bill to £1,161 a year, affected 4.1 million out of 7.5 million British Gas customers, and prompted criticism from the government and consumer groups

Centrica said it still had 3.5 million customers on standard variable tariffs – usually the most expensive – although the number is down from 4.3 million at the start of the year.

The company said it was encouraging customers to switch to one of its cheaper fixed-term tariffs. It has withdrawn the SVT for new customers, and 428,000 accounts have moved on to the new safeguard tariff for vulnerable customers.

The government’s cap on all standard energy tariffs including SVTs is expected to come into force at the end of this year. A price cap for vulnerable households already came in early last year.

Iain Conn, Centrica’s chief executive, reiterated concerns that some customers would end up paying more once the wider cap comes in.

“Prices may well bunch around the level of the cap, so some of the cheaper deals in the market may disappear, which means that some customers will end up paying more,” he told the BBC. Conn suggested ending the SVT instead.

Centrica’s overall adjusted operating profit fell 4% to £782m. The group’s shares were one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 after the results were announced, losing more than 5%.

During the cold snap in February and early March, when the “beast from the east” brought large parts of the UK to a standstill, British Gas incurred additional call-out costs of £15m. It had its busiest week for boiler repairs.