Comment: The anger of consumers is understandable

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THE soaring cost of heating our homes has been much in the news of late. First SSE hiked their pieces, followed by British Gas. Expect the rest of the Big Six to follow just as temperatures begin to plummet.

Given the huge profits posted by these energy firms, the consumer anger is understandable. The deregulation of the energy market was supposed to deliver competition and savings to consumers. In fact, we have had neither.

But what many us forget is that rising prices are costing us not just at home. As taxpayers, we are paying for the soaring cost of electricity and gas in our hospitals, police stations, schools and so on.

Our story today highlights the issue. Edinburgh City Council, which is battling hard to maintain key services in the face of cuts to its budget, saw school gas bills rise by 24 per cent in 2012-13 - a leap of £475,000 in just 12 months.

The bottom line is that such increases – if they persist – will result in cuts to vital services across the Lothians.

So what can we do? Councils need to continue to negotiate the best deals possible with energy providers to ensure the tariffs are the most competitive.

But we also need to take responsibility for our own energy use.

Schools – particularly those which are older – can be draughty places. Doors are often left open as children come and go.

Greater attention needs to be paid to reducing these costs.

Modern insulation must be maximised, the most efficient boilers installed and heating and lighting turned off whenever appropriate.

Not only will this save our councils money but it will also act as a good lesson to our children that resources are not finite.

If figures are made public on each school’s green credentials this will help to focus the minds of school staff and encourage children to compete against other schools for a green award.

Keeping bills down will be tough, but there is now no choice.