The Energy Revolution

The smart meter roll-out has been bumpy, and bedevilled by technical issues around its communications systems. To date, about 6m have been installed towards the goal of achieving 50m+ installations by 2020, and the Government remains adamant that that date is not negotiable.

We are de-commissioning old coal-fired and nuclear-fuelled generating plants, and replacing some of that capacity with enormous wind farms. Solar power is becoming more commonplace (nearly 1m householders now have a solar panel on their roof), and we are experimenting with tidal power and other technologies. But all our existing cables and wires are in the wrong place to transmit this electricity to our homes. Continue reading “The Energy Revolution”

Disruptive change ahead in the way we buy and use energy

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In the spring, Ofgem announced its Insight for Future Regulation project, and has now produced the first paper of a series:  first Future Insights discussion paper. It sets out some of the dramatic changes in the way we use and buy energy which might come about in the next five or ten years.

First, a health warning – past predictions are not a firm guide to the future, though they are the best we have got.  Between December 2012 and March 2016, the number of active gas or electricity suppliers in the domestic market doubled from 20 to 43. Forecasts by the (then) Department of Trade and Industry in 2000 for electricity demand in 2015 turned out to be 20% too high – our appliances are much more efficient than anticipated. Continue reading “Disruptive change ahead in the way we buy and use energy”

How best to support older people with Energy issues?

“[Energy Adviser] who came to assess our needs was very thorough and offered advice and suggestions. The work was promptly completed and has been a boom in the cold weather. It involved draught proofing our doors which had warped over the years. What a difference to the warmth of our home this winter”
“[Energy Adviser] who came to assess our needs was very thorough and offered advice and suggestions. The work was promptly completed and has been a boom in the cold weather. It involved draught proofing our doors which had warped over the years. What a difference to the warmth of our home this winter”
We know cold weather increases the demand on the health service, and with cold homes in particular, it is believed to be one reason behind increases in respiratory and circulatory diseases in winter. Older people are more likely to suffer from cold weather and in addition to affecting their health we know it can have an impact on their quality of life. The personal and family costs from becoming seriously ill or from a premature death because of the cold can be devastating. But it does not need to be this way. Continue reading “How best to support older people with Energy issues?”

The future is electrifying

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Two thirds of our current electricity generating plants will be decommissioned by 2030.   In the next fifteen years, they will need to be replaced with a mixture of new power stations and by generating more energy from renewable resources – primarily wind and solar, and tidal might also have a place. On top of that, we will need more electricity as we proceed with the electrification of heating and transport – some predictions suggest that we should eventually be planning for a seven-fold increase in electricity generation capacity.    Continue reading “The future is electrifying”

Wholly automatic driving

Photo credit: Del Mitch (Flickr: Creative Commons )
Photo credit: Del Mitch (Flickr: Creative Commons )

Mobility, as Age UK is constantly arguing, is a key to social engagement and active ageing. Bus travel is getting better in terms of passenger information, but public services funding means bus services are frequently faltering, so using a car is often the only option. The good news is that cars are getting easier to drive, and wholly ‘autonomous’ cars are just over the horizon. Continue reading “Wholly automatic driving”

How fraudsters use time pressure to succeed in their scams

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When John transferred the money, he thought he’d got a great deal. In the current market, deciding what to do with his pension lump sum hadn’t been easy, but this investment opportunity had come just at the right time and the promised returns looked great. It was only when his building society contacted him that he had second thoughts…

Continue reading “How fraudsters use time pressure to succeed in their scams”

Branch closures present banks with age-friendly design challenge

LR Age UK ID203145 Age friendly banking report_JPG

This blog was contributed by David Steele, Policy Manager Financial Services, at Age UK 

What happens when all the banks in a town or suburb decide to close their branches? Where do people go to talk about tricky transactions or more complex services? Where do local businesses bank their cash and cheques? The UK bank branch network has shrunk by half over the last 25 years with another 2000 closures expected in the next 3-4 years, meaning that the number of stranded customers is likely to continue increasing. Continue reading “Branch closures present banks with age-friendly design challenge”