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Minister: turn off lights to save on electricity bills

TT/The Local/vt · 27 Jan 2011, 16:39

Published: 27 Jan 2011 16:39 GMT+01:00

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Enterprise and energy minister Maud Olofsson called on Swedish residents to further insulate their homes, install triple-glazed windows and replace incandescent bulbs to combat skyrocketing electricity bills.

She also urged electricity customers to unplug electrical appliances to keep them from running in standby mode.

"In the short term, it is the only thing one can do to try to keep one's electricity consumption down," Olofsson said on Thursday after a meeting with the director of the Energy Markets Inspectorate (Energimarknadsinspektionen, EI).

"But I understand customer concerns. I also have loved ones who complain about this," she added.

Despite her expression of sympathy, Olofsson's proposed solution to high electricity costs wasn't welcomed in all quarters.

“I think that very many people view this advice as a provocation,” Joacim Olsson of the Swedish Homeowners Association (Villaägarnas riksförbund) told the TT news agency.

Olofsson fortified the insulation in her home in Högfors, a community of seven inhabitants in Västerbotten in northeastern Sweden 50 kilometres northeast of Umeå, back in the 1970s during the oil crisis.

According to Olofsson, improved wind insulation for a house can save 3,300 kronor ($512) a year, while installing triple-glazed windows saves about 2,000 kronor per year.

But Olsson from the Homeowners Association is convinced that most homeowners have already implemented many of the energy saving measures proposed by Olofsson as ways to lower households’ electricity costs.

“And even so it’s hard for a lot of families to pay their electricity bills. It’s not enough to urge people implement such measures. As the responsible minister, Maud Olofsson needs to do something so that this doesn’t turn into a major problem for people’s welfare,” said Olsson.

Olofsson vowed to continue to work toward a better functioning in Sweden.

"I am doing everything I can to improve this market," said Olofsson.

Story continues below…

In the long run, the work will hopefully lead to a smarter power supply system and more timers in homes, as well as considerably more renewable energy and an integrated market in the Nordic countries, she said.

However, all this cannot be accomplished overnight, according to Olofsson. She hopes to be able to share more about how to strengthen confidence in the electricity market in the spring. A good chunk of energy bills also go to energy taxes and VAT.

"In this area, there are no discussions at the moment. However, I am prepared to look at all measures that will make it easier for customers," she said.

TT/The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:06 January 27, 2011 by GLO
The govt should look out for the people. Food, Housing,Utility cost are the basic needs of everyone.

Do they want to ave money for you? Is the Leadership more interested in political goals ie Green Policy! How you doing?

Elected Govt and Labor Leaders are the new elete, the new Zarrs.

How are you doing.
19:43 January 27, 2011 by DAVID T
And the power companies keep making billions in profit - This woman is a dunce
20:12 January 27, 2011 by rybo1
I live in a new home, supposedly, somewhat energy efficient, with a new-fangled heating system I can't even figure out. Hah! what a laugh. Cold air breezes in though the light switches at the front door and kitchen door. Good old PEAB workmanship. Anyway, I do all of the right things and leave nothing on standby. All of my lights are the energy efficient ones. Yet my electric bill is more than two new car payments.

I think it's about time that Vattenfall and the rest of them lobby to at least get the nuclear power plants to work at full capacity, which at this time, they're not. You can be sure that somebody is making a bundle.
20:17 January 27, 2011 by ISayWhatPeopleThink
What an asshat.

I know, why don't we all just make do and pay our higher electric bills like Maud does herself?

Have our employer give us a 150% pay raise....and then loop-hole around to get double paychecks (Google it folks, all true). The woman makes more than Reinfeldt himself.

Cry to her, and all she's going to offer you is a tissue out of her diamond encrusted Prada handbag. She's out of touch with reality of what real citizens are dealing with.

Now if you excuse me, I have to go polish my monocle and throw priceless paintings at the homeless. It's all my entertainment budget allows me these days. :(
23:32 January 27, 2011 by zooeden
She has to be joking right???? What a UNT!!! I have also a new appartment which recently changed windows and now there is an air leak, tell me Maud what should we do, cover the frames with wool???
23:51 January 27, 2011 by Great Scott
This women has no idea, is this she can come up with as politician. This is just common sense known by 99.999999999% of people.

Why doesn't she have the guts to combat skyrocketing electricity bills? I think 99.999999999% of people know the answer to this as well.

Once again these fat cat politicians target the people and not the scum they protect.
00:19 January 28, 2011 by samwise
the government adds high tax on gasoline, which discourages consumption, that's supposed to be a good idea to save the world, according to the left.

The man made global warming advocates should be happy now.
01:43 January 28, 2011 by svenne101
it is good for the future experience . anyway the energy prices are going to raise continuously in the future so people must adopt do future prices and shortages. i appreciate this kind of situations where people can learn lessons.

well done sweden and vattenfall.
08:01 January 28, 2011 by Mad Mac
This is insulting at the Marie Antoinette level. We don't want to be told to eat cake. What we need is to move the energy industry into the socially owned, socially priced, not for profit sector.

And scrap domestic energy taxes. I'm in favour of a green agenda as much as anyone, but not through rationing by price. Green neoliberalism may be OK for the rich, it's not OK for the other nine tenths of society.

And if Our Masters want people to insulate, triple glaze, etc, they are going to need to improve the subsidy level quite a lot befor the people who need to do this most can afford to do so.
08:45 January 28, 2011 by RobinHood
When former Californian governor Gray Davies asked people to save power, and their money, by turning down their air conditioning when they went on holiday, George Bush called him "Unamerican". It turned out later that the Californian power shortages were caused by market manipulation by Enron, a major Bush donor.

Saving power at home is good for everybody (except the suppliers), and politicians shouldn't be hounded when they remind us of ways to do so. When they are, I get suspicious. Do some of you guys have shares in Swedish power suppliers?

Maud Olofsson is the Swedish energy minister. Her comments are well within the brief of an energy minister. You should be more concerned by an energy minister that didn't ask us to save power, rather than one that did.
09:53 January 28, 2011 by Rebel
RobinHood, you kinda forget the close relationship between John Kerry's wife and Enron's Ken Lay...but whatever.

As for Miss "Let them eat cake" we should not ignore how much money the government in Sweden rakes in from the outrageous energy taxes that they could easily reduce. There are tons of people in this banana (potato) republic that are turning off their radiators and having their kids wear thick sweaters at hoe because they cannot afford their electric bills. I guess we need those taxes to fly Al Gore around to spread his propaganda as well as pay for the character assassination of Julian Assange.

Oh, and Robin, let us not forget -- the real Robin Hood was a libertarian, not a socialist. He robbed from the rich who made their money through being favored by the government -- the sort of system condemned by Adam Smith. And what do we have in Europe and the USA today? Free enterprise for the poor and socialism for the rich who are in bed with the governments. I for one see an unholy alliance between large electricity companies and the Swedish government. The higher the price for electricity the more money the Swedish government can rake in through taxation. Neither party has an interest in altering this sweet deal.
11:03 January 28, 2011 by Keith #5083
According to the E-control and VassaETT EU price index (including taxes) for Jan 2011 the average generation and distribution costs account for 75% of the bill. In Sweden, however, these "so-called greedy" power companies account for only 65% of the bill. This is remarkably efficient considering the geography and population size/distribution in Sweden.

Higher than EU average energy tax and MVA account for the rest of the costs.

So we should all turn off lights, insulate better and such things if we have not already done so - however, the single biggest factor in energy costs savings in Sweden would be to turn off taxes - or some of them!

At least equalise energy/MVA taxes to the EU average.

It is good that the minister has been 'provocative' - but it's an 'own goal' provocation since taxes are the greater factor in high energy costs in Sweden.

Obs: I do not work for any company that has any connection with the electricity industry other than the normal 'stik-kontakts', hehehe.
12:04 January 28, 2011 by Puffin
According to Olofsson, improved wind insulation for a house can save 3,300 kronor ($512) a year,

I think that The Local should check its translation - Olofsson was talking about loft insulation NOT "wind insulation"

vind = loft
12:20 January 28, 2011 by Mb 65
The less electric we use the more the company's put up their charges. My i now use less electric yet pay twice as much. Why do they charge as much to supply the electric, this doubles the bill straight away. They also repair the nuclear power stations in the winter. The krona is trading very high at the moment so any imported energy should be much cheaper. they keep telling us that the economy is great. how come when so many people are out of work and those that are working can't afford to pay their electric bills. If the government sell off these energy company's your bills will double or even treble.
12:26 January 28, 2011 by johnny1939
I do all the right things to the point of misery. I had all my windows exchanged last summer to a very high price. I keep the thermostat down to the point that my hands are ice cold and still my bill is sky high. I unplug the household appliances when not in use. What else can I do? Oh yes, I forgot, I keep the land phone plugged in I guess that is next to go.
14:21 January 28, 2011 by IWP
The cost in Sweden is an international disgrace, reflecting the "Swede'/'Greed' synergy. E-on must be one of the greediest operators in the market. Swedes have destroyed their once-great rivers by indiscriminate damning (few salmon/migratory fish ladders), largely on the assumption they would have low-cost power. Never happened. Now, wind-power is being developed with the growing destruction of many areas of natural beauty. Cheap energy is again the promise. Won't happen. Swedes are idiots. They deserve everything they get.
15:07 January 28, 2011 by Keith #5083
We need to be fair about the companies supplying - there is a market price throughout Europe and the world. With only 9.5 million population and a very large area, I have no complaint - no complaint - with the supply and service I get out in the countryside.

Would you produce something and sell it for less than market price when the demand is high? Of course not!

The problem is not with the supply price - the disproportionately high taxation on energy in Sweden compared with the European average is a major culprit and the fact that we have far more equipment in the average home that requires electricity.

It's also interesting how the price of wood for stoves follows the price of electric!
15:09 January 28, 2011 by eppie
Many people think it is their god given right to waste energy and drive around in big 4 wheel drives. Then if it turns out the bills are too high they start complaining.

Well all I can say....get used to it. Energy (and food) will only keep getting more expensive, so that me a moron and just use some common sense when using energy. And if you are not willing to do that at least don't whine about it.
15:26 January 28, 2011 by karex
As long as the state-owned monopolies exist, they will dicatate whatever price and quality level they want and we have no say. Want to solve these problems? Open up these areas to competition. That includes the public rail system and everything else they have a monopoly on, except those rare caese where it could compromise national security.

I heard the same trains run in Canada as here, and even though they have there the same, and in some places even worse winter conditions than we have here, their trains don't stop. Why? Well, you get what youy pay for. If you want to save of features, you have to be prepared to compromise on end results. Doesn't seem to have affected the price of the tickets they charge though... The old trains are much more reliable than the new-fangles "chep version" ones, but I didn't see train fares decreasing when they introduced the cheaper trains... It just helped them increase their profit level.
15:55 January 28, 2011 by Swedesmith
@ eppie

Energy prices will indeed continue to rise just as our resources contunue to decline and demand increases. We need to seek alternatives to coal and oil based energy and we need to do it yesterday.
21:49 January 28, 2011 by DAVID T
you can e-mail this idot: maud.olofsson@enterprise.ministry.se

I sent her an e-mail but she didn't reply
23:43 January 28, 2011 by Keith #5083

"you get what you pay for" you wrote advocating the 'free market' approach to all services/supplies.

In principle it sounds good, but in practice it isn't entirely convincing. Certain utilities and services suffer badly when 'privatised' and become clearly a methodoly for cynical profiteering that has no control mechanism from the public.

At least politicians get voted in or out and that implies some level of control.

Even shareholders face impotence against many privatised managements.

In the case of Sweden 'you get what you pay for' is not strictly correct - due to the taxation levels on energy.
01:35 January 29, 2011 by BobWas
Robin Hood, that sounds like the opposite of what George Bush would say. First, he promoted energy conservation (voluntary energy conservation) so the air-conditioning anecdote makes no sense and second, he wasn't much of a name-caller.
14:00 January 29, 2011 by Looking in
Lights don't burn much power. Better to have the high temperatures turned down in apartments--they are set way too high. That would save a lot. Also, replace old clothes dryers with ones with sensors so they shut off the moment the drier senses the clothes are dry. Both of these would help more than turning off the odd light!
19:33 February 3, 2011 by Kevin Walker
I have a modern 3 year old house,wth no loft,so no need for insulation and we have 3 glass windows and I am always switching

off lights as if I have some kind of obssesive compulsive behaviour.

And I am getting bills of 7000kr for one month thats 4 weeks.It must be the most rip- off immorally wrong sky high prices in europe.We need to probably go on the streets and protest over this.Thats probably the only way to get the government to listen.Why should we have to pay a double mortgage,this money we should be saving towards a holiday.Shame on you Sweden.
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