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EU: How to Reduce Your Energy Bills and Dependency on Russia

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Energy bills have spiked in Greece following the pandemic and now the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Credit: Greek Reporter

This week, the European Commission and the International Energy Agency outlined a range of simple steps that people and governments can take to reduce energy bills, dependency on Russian energy, and help the environment.

According to the plan, if all EU citizens and governments followed these eight steps, it would save enough oil to fill 120 supertankers and enough natural gas to heat almost 20 million homes.

The actions—designed both to support Ukraine by cutting Europe’s reliance on Russian fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions—were presented and discussed by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol and European Commission Director-General for Energy Ditte Juul Jørgensen during a live-streamed virtual roundtable event with a host of figures from government and civil society.

Most households are experiencing higher energy bills because of the energy crisis exacerbated by the war. Using less energy is not only an immediate way for Europeans to reduce their bills, it also supports Ukraine by reducing the need for Russian oil and gas, thereby helping to reduce the revenue streams funding the invasion.

The recommended steps for citizens and governments include:

  • turning down heating and using less air conditioning
  • working from home when possible to avoid commuting
  • car-pooling or travelling by public transport when available
  • teleworking and train journeys instead of short-haul flights
  • reducing fares for trains, buses and micro-mobility
  • supporting the installation of solar panels
  • improving home insulation
  • switching to other fuels for heating

According to the plan’s findings, turning down the thermostat by just 1 °C would save around 7% of the energy used for heating, while setting an air conditioner 1 °C warmer could reduce the amount of electricity used by up to 10%.

With an average one-way car commute in the EU of 15 kilometers, working at home three days a week could reduce household fuel bills by around €35 a month even after taking increased energy use at home into account.

Further, as the average car in the EU clocks up about 13 000 kilometers a year, reducing cruising speed on motorways by 10 kilometer an hour could cut fuel costs by an average of around €60 a year.

Average EU household could save on energy bills close to €500 a year

By following all recommendations in the plan, the typical EU household could save, on average, close to €500 a year, though the amounts would vary depending on the household’s size, location, and access to public transport for example.

If all EU citizens were to follow the recommendations at home and in their workplace, it would save 220 million barrels of oil a year and around 17 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

“Faced with the horrendous scenes of human suffering that we’ve seen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, people in Europe want to take action,” said IEA Executive Director Dr Birol.

Birol added that “using less energy is a concrete way to help the Ukrainian people—and to help ourselves. This guide has easy-to-follow steps that with little or no discomfort on our part can reduce the flow of money to Russia’s military and help put us on a path to a cleaner and more sustainable planet.”

“Energy efficiency has the potential to be the most important policy initiative for reducing our dependence on Russian imports and responding to the current energy market challenges, both through short term energy savings, and longer-term energy efficiency measures,” said Ms Juul Jørgensen, the European Commission Director-General for Energy.

“Energy efficiency is an area where everyone can make a difference. This also has the potential to provide considerable savings to individual consumers at this time of high wholesale energy prices,” she added.

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