In a few days, Britons will go to the polls to elect the next government. Environmental issues have come up but not as much as Brexit, not surprisingly. Extinction Rebellion and others are keeping environmental issues as visible as possible. While the Palace of Westminster, the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords is due for a major restoration and no doubt it will involve improving its energy performance, its electricity bill has significantly increased last year. Grace Gausden discusses the situation in an article on the This Is Money. What is the energy performance of your parliament?
The £5.1m energy bill racked up by the Houses of Parliament last year – as political parties compete to green up their election manifestos
The Houses of Parliament spent £5.1million on its energy bill last year – equating to nearly £14,000 a DAY on gas and electricity.
This is roughly four times as much as the bill for all six of the Royal Palaces which came in at £1.3million – equating to £594 per palace, per day.
Parliament’s energy bill rose by 28 per cent annually due to a huge increase in the amount of electricity used, perhaps as politicians burnt the bulb at both ends trying to finalise Brexit.
It comes despite Parliament seemingly being on a good tariff and political parties pledging to make Britain greener.
The Houses of Parliament paid 0.0199p per kilowatt hour (kWh) for their gas whilst it paid 0.093p per kWh for their electricity in 2018/19, according to analysis of publicly available figures by auto switching service Flipper.
Meanwhile, the average household pays 0.039p for gas and 0.184p for electricity – more than double.
By comparison, the Royal Estate managed to cut their energy usage by 24 per cent year-on-year, thanks mainly to new boilers and LED lighting being installed across all properties.
It comes after a number of political parties, including the Green Party and Labour, have pledged that Britain will reach a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
This essentially means balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal, often through carbon offsetting, or eliminating carbon emissions altogether.
Environmental issues in the upcoming general election are likely to be one of the main topics debated as recent protests, prompted by campaigner, Greta Thunberg, have spread across the world with millions demanding action by world leaders.
However, to achieve net zero carbon emissions, it seems that Parliament may have to take a look closer to home and cut down on their own energy usage.
Mark Gutteridge, Flipper’s managing director, said: ‘Using publicly-available sources we found that the Houses of Parliament burns through an energy bill of £5.1million last year – that’s close to £14,000 every day.
‘This is at a time when political parties are pledging to take us to a net zero carbon economy including telling the electorate about the imperative to make our households more energy efficient.
‘From what we have found the Houses of Parliament is actually on a pretty good tariff, paying around £0.02 per kWh for gas and £0.09 per kWh for electricity.
‘This says to us that they clearly need to improve the energy efficiency of those buildings and do the basics like turning the lights off when they leave a room.’
It hasn’t been revealed which energy firms both Parliament and the Royal Estate get their supply from nor has it been publicly revealed how much the Royals pay per kWh for their gas and electricity.
A spokesperson for the Houses of Parliament said: ‘Parliament is on track to achieve a 34 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020/21. The £5.1million energy cost is for the entire Parliamentary Estate which is a place of work with thousands of staff, a visitor attraction welcoming one million plus guests per year, and a busy working Parliament.
‘It now encompasses 19 buildings, including a UNESCO World Heritage site and many other Grade one listed buildings. Our energy supplier is contracted via the Crown Commercial Service, which ensures competitive pricing in line with EU procurement rules.’
The Crown Commercial Service, according to the gov.uk website, brings together ‘policy, advice and direct buying; providing commercial services to the public sector and saving money for the taxpayer.’
The Royal Household has released its plans to make every part of its estate more energy efficient.
This includes installing LED lighting, hydro-electricity generating plants and recycling the vast amount of organic waste it produces.
Flipper compared Houses of Parliament energy bill against six palaces which include Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Mews, Windsor Home Park and parts of Kensington Palace.
Meanwhile the areas of Parliament include the Palace of Westminster, Parliament Street, the Norman Shaw Buildings, the House of Commons Library, Portcullis House, Richmond House and Richmond Terrace (formerly Department of Health).
Gutteridge added: ‘Compared to Parliament, I think we should be saying hats – or crowns – off to the Queen as last year the bill for all six Royal Palaces was just £1.3millon.
‘That’s still a lot of money, however it’s only a quarter of what Parliament paid for its energy usage.
‘To cap it all Her Majesty managed to cut energy usage in those properties by 24 per cent year on year thanks to taking the same actions all of us should be doing like replacing old boilers and changing to LED light bulbs.’
Parliament energy costs
This is Money has analysed the Parliamentary energy spend over the past six years and found that it has risen more than £1million since last year.
2018/19 – £5.1million