Unusually warm weather ‘saved government £260m in energy support’

October 2022 was warmer than it usually is at that time of year  (Getty Images)
October 2022 was warmer than it usually is at that time of year (Getty Images)

The unseasonably warm weather in the UK last month meant the government saved over a quarter of a billion in energy subsidies, according to new research.

With temperatures averaging 11.5C in October, according to the Met Office, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt got a rare fiscal boost.

With its especially warm end, October 2022 was the seventh warmest October in the time period measured since 1884, according to the Met Office.

As a result, households did not turn their heating on as early as they usually would, and many still haven’t turned it on once as we head into November.

It meant October’s natural gas demand was down by 19 per cent from the norm, according to research from BFY Group for Bloomberg News.

The warm October saw about 10% knocked off household energy bills (SWNS)
The warm October saw about 10% knocked off household energy bills (SWNS)

Households across the UK saved about £600 million in total, taking around 10 per cent off their bills as a result of the unusually warm temperatures.

That is said to have saved the Treasury £260 million in energy subsidies it may have had to pay if the UK had been hit with a colder spell. In total, the government spent £2.7 billion in October.

Gemma Berwick at BFY said: “It shows the scale of savings that could be made by implementing energy efficiency measures and reducing demand.”

She added that improving Britain’s domestic energy efficiency should be “high on the agenda for the new prime minister”.

The average temperature in London in October is usually 11.88C. The Met Office has calculated 30-year averages, providing maximum temperatures and minimum temperatures for many areas around the UK.

In London, the maximum average temperature in October is 15.9C and the minimum is 7.78C

But last month, temperatures in London reached 23C - over 7C more than the average maximum usually seen in October.

Michael Kendon, of the National Climate Information Centre, told NorfolkLive: “What has been particularly unusual about this October is the persistent above-average temperatures – particularly across the southern half of the UK.

“Maximum temperatures have been above average on every day of the month – always reaching the mid-teens.”

The UK saw 14 per cent more sunshine last month than usual, totalling 105 hours of sun, according to NorfolkLive.

The high temperatures provided some relief for the UK government, which promised uncapped intervention in September as civilians faced spiralling energy prices. But this created worry about bloated government borrowing.

Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng estimated the total package, including support for businesses as well, would cost the government £60 billion until April 2023.

The government hasn’t been focusing on publicising efficiency methods, with former prime minister Liz Truss blocking an energy-saving publicity campaign.

Rishi Sunak will have to make a decision about how to proceed as the government’s support package will end in April.

And the strangely warm October doesn’t mean the rest of winter will follow that trend. The Met Office has already predicted a higher-than-usual chance of a particularly cold winter.