Pat Keenor: Electricity prices
HERE's a statistic for you. In October energy companies were making £45 profit on the average dual fuel bill. Now, four months later, it's £120.
Here's another one. Energy bills have a risen 159 per cent since 2004.
I don't profess to be an expert on power. All I know is that if I press the right switch, the light will come on. If I turn on the oven, some strange alchemy happens and something inedible appears.
But although there may be myriad reasons why our energy bills have to go up – and God knows we've been given enough reasons/excuses by the power companies – it's that one little word that is worrying me.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
If £45 per bill was enough profit in October, why in February do the companies need to be making £120? Maths isn't my strong point, but that's a huge rise of around 70 per cent.
Here are some of those reasons/excuses the power companies give for a rise in fuel bills: the rising cost of transport costs, a rise in demand, UK power plants closing, foreign gas supplies shrinking.
Just a moment's reflection will reveal that these reasons/excuses may be a reason/excuse for prices rising but they are not a reason/excuse to be making more PROFIT.
Alistair Buchanan the head of Ofgem, the public body that is supposed to regulate the electricity and gas markets in Great Britain, has warned that British energy reserves are "uncomfortably tight" and prices may have to rise...
Yes, Alistair, when those things happen, we expect higher prices. But not BEFORE they happen. Let me repeat. Energy firms are making £75 more PROFIT from my quarterly bill than they were just four months ago.
I have a novel plan. As those costs rise the power companies could for a while gradually reduce the PROFIT they are making from each consumer, at least until it is back down to the £45 it was four months ago.
Do you think this is going to happen? I'm not holding my breath.
TALKING of things electrical, when did it get that you needed a degree in physics to buy a light bulb? Time was I wandered into the supermarket, picked up a pack of four or half a dozen lightbulbs for £4.99 and walked out again.
All I had to decide was how bright I wanted them to be, from 40W (where I wanted dim light so that the better half and I could look at each other and pretend we weren't bad looking) up to 100W where I wanted to read a book or cook a chop without cutting my finger off.
I appreciate, before you tell me, that low energy bulbs are better for the environment. I'm not complaining about the principle but about the sheer magnitude of choice and how confusing the labelling is.
By the way, we're not supposed to use the world "bulb" at all – the industry calls them "lamps", bulbs being what you put in your garden.
Still, the word "lamp" to me is that thing on the table that you switch on to light up your room. Unless you're into football, in which case Lamps is a Chelsea and England player who is having trouble with his contract at the moment.
Anyway, one of the "lamps" I looked at was £9.99 for ONE bulb. True, it had a life expectancy of 35,000 hours so, barring accidents, it should last even longer than the Royal Variety Show.
Then there were halogen bulbs, fluorescent, compact fluorescent, fluorescent tubes, tungsten lamps, energy saving bulbs, spiral energy saver, bayonet cap, edison screw cap, halogen capsules – and all these come in different sizes.
And don't think you can equate the wattage in the old "incandescent bulbs" with wattage in the new ones. You may need the equivalent of 100W but in present terms that is so bright it could light up Wembley.
The watt is not a measure of brightness because different bulbs are more or less efficient in converting electrical power into light.
I wasn't sure what wattage to buy so in the end, being a bit tight, I bought a packet of two 10W bulbs for around £5. They work fine as long as you don't mind bumping into the furniture and stepping on the cat.
Now the only incandescent thing in my house is me – with rage.