Households across Britain are set to be asked to cut their energy use this winter over fears of potential shortages throughout the colder months.
According to The Times, ministers in the new Liz Truss government are planning to unleash a public information campaign that will encourage people to do simple things like switch off electrical appliances or turn down thermostats.
The campaign is reportedly being planned over concerns that Truss’s announcement on an energy price freeze will remove any incentive to use less energy to keep bills down.
Ministers and energy companies fear that if consumption is not reduced, it will increase the risk of blackouts.
Making her first major policy announcement this morning, the prime minister said that energy bills for the average household will be frozen at no more than £2,500, while businesses will be spared crippling increases.
Truss' two-year plan will save the average household around £1,000 from October and protect billpayers from further expected rises over the coming months.
For businesses and other non-domestic users such as schools and hospitals, which have not been covered by the existing price cap, a six-month scheme will offer equivalent support.
After that there will be ongoing support for the most vulnerable industries, with a review in three months’ time to decide where the help should be targeted.
Truss also confirmed she is temporarily scrapping green levies on energy bills to keep bills down, while also reversing a ban on fracking.
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Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to instruct people on their energy use use while he was prime minister but Russia cutting off supplies to Europe from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline has raised fears of energy rationing.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said that Truss' price freeze will result in increased energy use.
He said: “There is a logic to people reducing energy use when there’s a shortage and prices are high…
“If the price doesn’t go up to reflect the market price, in the end people won’t respond.”
John Macdonald, director of strategy at the Adam Smith Institute also warned against freezing energy prices, telling Times Radio that such a policy “could push us to energy rationing later in the year because there's no incentive for people to reduce their energy usage”.
Labour has pointed to prior comments from the new chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, who was critical of the return of onshore fracking as recently as March, saying backers “misunderstand the situation we find ourselves in”.
He added at the time: "If we lifted the fracking moratorium, it would take up to a decade to extract sufficient volumes – and it would come at a high cost for communities and our precious countryside."
Labour has also accused the PM of writing a “blank cheque” to oil and gas giants by ruling out a windfall tax to pay for the cost-of-living package, with the British people left to “foot the bill”.
The party said the “only fair” answer to the crisis is its own proposal to freeze bills, valued by the party at £29bn.