Turn your boilers down to 60C to cut energy bills, households to be told

Grant Shapps MP leaving Number 10 in Downing Street as new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak begins cabinet reshuffle - Leon Neal
Grant Shapps MP leaving Number 10 in Downing Street as new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak begins cabinet reshuffle - Leon Neal

Households will be told to turn their boilers down to 60C in an £18 million government drive to lower energy bills.

It will form part of a two-pronged strategy spearheaded by Grant Shapps, the Business Secretary, which will also involve middle-income families being handed “eco” grants to make their homes more energy efficient.

As part of the campaign, which will be launched in the coming weeks, households will be given technical tips to cut their energy this winter.

Advice includes telling households to turn down radiators in empty rooms and to draught proof their windows and doors.

They will also be told that they can reduce the temperature a boiler heats water to before it is sent to radiators - known as the boiler flow temperature -  from 75C to 60C.

Downing Street decided to give the campaign the green light despite earlier concerns that it might be regarded as an unwanted intrusion from a “nanny state”.

Whitehall sources were keen to push back on this on Sunday, saying: “This isn’t about telling people to wear an extra jumper and turn the heating off - that’s completely the wrong idea, this is not about putting people in discomfort.

“It’s about giving people the agency to learn the tips and tricks to keep their energy bills lower.”

The final preparations for the campaign are still under way, but it is understood that it will consist of a series of advertisements on the television, radio as well as on the sides of buses. The Government will also use its social media channels and its existing Help for Households website to promote its advice.

Last month Liz Truss faced a backlash from Tory MPs over her decision to veto a similar campaign aimed at encouraging the public to save on energy bills.

Senior backbenchers expressed dismay after it emerged the then prime minister had blocked a publicity blitz drawn up by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was business secretary at the time.

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, said: “With Putin’s war driving up gas prices worldwide, I know many families are feeling worried about their energy bills this winter and beyond.

“Our extensive energy support package is insulating people from the worst of this crisis, but we’re also supporting people to permanently cut their costs.

“In the longer term, we need to make Britain more energy independent by generating more clean, affordable, home-grown power, but we also need more efficient homes and buildings.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is also launching a £1 billion “eco plus” scheme with hundreds of thousands of middle-income households receiving government-backed grants to insulate their homes.

Previous schemes have focussed on support for low-income families, but this will focus on houses which are the least energy efficient and also fall into council tax bands A-D. Around 80 per cent of the funding will be reserved for such households, with the remaining 20 per cent ringfenced for the most vulnerable.

“The Government put immediate help in place to support households in the wake of global energy price rises caused by Putin’s illegal march on Ukraine,” Mr Shapps said.

“Today, we launch the first of many measures to ensure the British public are never put in this position again as we work towards an energy independent future.”

Mr Shapps will travel to Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk on Monday to mark the finalising of the deal between the Government and the French state-owned giant EDF to build a new nuclear power plant.

The deal, which is set to be announced on Tuesday, will involve £700 million worth of government investment in what will be the first state backing for a nuclear project in over 30 years.

In his Autumn Statement, Mr Hunt said the project would create 10,000 highly skilled jobs and provide reliable, low-carbon, power to the equivalent of six million homes for over 50 years.

The Suffolk development has been hailed as a key part of Britain’s efforts to improve its energy security, though critics have baulked at the costs and length of time it will take to complete.

Nuclear power plants have become a key part of the Government’s aim to boost energy security, with ministers hoping they will eventually produce 25pc of the country’s power. They are also seen as an important way of achieving net zero goals.

On Sunday, Mr Shapps wrote to chief executives of all domestic energy companies to warn that households' direct debits should not be going up when they are making “huge efforts” to reduce their energy consumption.

He said he was “disturbed” to learn about this, adding that when consumers take “sensible steps” to reduce their bills, this should be rewarded with falling direct debits rather than punished by seeing them rise.

“I am very keen that all suppliers find a way to make their systems more responsive to these positive changes in consumer behaviour and have asked Ofgem to report to me on how this can be achieved,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak will use his first major speech on foreign policy on Monday at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to say that a strong domestic economy underpins our relationships with overseas allies.

He will argue that Britain needs to make long-term plans to counter the threats from Russia and China, and discuss the importance of the UK’s relationships with fellow European nations.