County of Rutland consumes the most energy in England and Wales, which council attributes to its picturesque houses
By Sophie Yeo
The motto of Rutland, England’s tiniest historic, county is “much in little” – but apparently this doesn’t apply when it comes to energy consumption.
Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that households in this East Midlands county have the largest energy appetite in the whole of England and Wales.
Rutland households consumed an average of 36 megawatt hours in 2011, or more than three times that of the Isles of Scilly and Ceredigion, the two local authorities where energy consumption is lowest.
A spokesperson for Rutland County Council suggested that the reason for Rutland’s energy consumption might be the large amount of picturesque properties that are scattered throughout the area.
They said, “We can only speculate as to the reasons why Rutland is top of this table, but Rutland is a relatively affluent rural area and has, compared to other parts of the country, a significant amount of large detached older properties with solid walls which add to the character and attractiveness of our local area, but which require additional energy to heat to comfortable levels.”
In spite of this, the report suggests that rural households consume less energy because their isolation means they are less likely to received piped gas, and therefore may depend on alternative energy sources. There is no piped gas, for instance, for the whole of the Isles of Scilly.
Rutland, based located in the East Midlands, is merely the worst of a bad bunch. All of the top ten energy consuming counties hailed from this region of the UK, where the average household energy consumption in 2011 was 27.5mWh, compared to a national average of 19.7.
While the figures suggest that households in rural areas are likely to consume less energy than their urban counterparts, there were two local London authorities, Tower Hamlets and City of London, which crept into the top ten list of households with the lowest energy consumption.
Overall, the data shows that household energy consumption is decreasing. Over the six year period, energy consumption dropped by 24.7%.
This could be for a variety of reasons including household improvements such as insulation, more informed consumer purchasing decisions, better public awareness of environmental issues, or an overall price increase of gas and electricity.
Guy Newey, head of environment and energy at Policy Exchange, told RTCC, “It would be very interesting to do the analysis to try to work out which are the most important factors because that has real implications for whether policy is working and delivering cost reductions, or whether it’s just a case of the price going up, so demand’s going down.”
As to why certain areas had such a high level of energy consumption, Peter Williams from East Midlands Council told RTCC, “The reasons for this are almost certainly complex and varied.”