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Weaning ourselves off Russian gas starts on the home front

Vladimir Putin’s decision to suspend natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria is a wake-up call for Western countries. Europe is facing a cold and dark winter, unless all those on Ukraine’s side use less gas, which will allow European countries to escape Russia’s tight grip on its energy consumption.

Important as Programs They pump gas from other places, increase storage during the summer, accelerate renewable electricity projects in wind and solar and invest in home insulation, the quickest and cheapest way to reduce dependence on Russia is to simply use less gas.

If ever there was a win-win result for the energy troubles of our time, this is it. Lowering the temperature of our buildings in winter will reduce market prices, prevent Russia from hard currency, increase gas supply in friendly countries available to Europe and help a little with climate change.

Cambridge Energy Consulting Company Thought That a rather ambitious reduction in room heating from 20C to 18C across Europe would reduce energy use by 20-25 percent.

Such efficiency savings are certainly achievable. Homes in the UK, for example, have become 5C hotter In winter, on average, in the 40 years between 1971 and 2011. We can wear more layers of clothing, use blankets and buy efficient battery-heated coats. We do not have to freeze.

Therefore the task is to establish a policy that makes us want to change behavior, using an approach that relies on lessons from many different social sciences.

Politicians must lead in making energy saving a national priority, lead by example and repeatedly emphasize the importance of the mission. Downing Street No. 10, for example, should advertise its internal temperature at all times.

History suggests emergency appeal work. Power consumption fell by 40 percent a few weeks In individualistic Alaska on government urgency after an avalanche hit a major power line near the state capital in 2008. Japan’s power consumption has dropped 12 percent National after a successful trip to limit air conditioning following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power disaster.

Economics tells us that behavior responds to marginal price incentives. We must therefore increase the fixed payment for connecting to the gas and electricity grids while giving a discount to households as a double discount from their bills for each unit of energy they save compared to last year. Those who can not bother to participate in the national effort will subsidize the efforts of the participants.

Behavioral sciences can help push people along the way. The literature on tax compliance shows that national lotteries – say, for households that have reached a high threshold for energy savings – have proven effective In raising low-cost incomes in many countries.

Defaults are also important. Many modern thermostats are connected to the internet and companies like Hive and Google Nest need by default 18C this coming winter, which will force people to make an active choice to heat their homes more.

Data science is also a powerful tool for behavior change. Sites like that of the UK government Corona dashboard Was able to combine information of national importance with hyper-local data that tell people how bad the plague was in their area. A similar dashboard showing real-time national, local and even individual energy conservation efforts will help increase the prominence of the national conservation urge.

Ukraine is fighting Putin’s army on its territory. The West was quite united in condemning Russian aggression, imposing sanctions and supplying military hardware to Kiev. Now begins a secondary battle in the home front. If we want to minimize Putin’s leverage, victory in the fight for energy conservation this winter will be an effective weapon.

chris.giles@ft.com

Weaning ourselves off Russian gas starts on the home front Source link Weaning ourselves off Russian gas starts on the home front

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