Rising energy prices see slump in usage.

Gas prices went up Wednesday by an average of 10.4%, with ordinary Czechs expected to pay as much as a thousand crowns extra on energy annually. The main reason given for the rise by the country’s gas companies is a rise in energy prices across the world. However, most families appear to be offsetting rising costs with reduced demand. In fact, Czechs are heating their homes far less than they did a decade and a half ago. DJ reports:

Czechs living in pre-fabricated apartment blocks have long been used to not giving much thought to their heating requirements. The communal heating is automatically controlled – when temperatures fall, the heating in the entire block is switched on. But in most other forms of housing, the situation is rather different: with energy prices on the up, it seems that many have simply reduced their usage to offset the costs. Add to that increased environmentally-friendly insulation efforts and the result is clear. Over the last 17 years, according to official figures, Czech households have on average reduced their energy consumption by a third, and some experts believe that this trend will continue, with Czechs reducing heating energy usage by as much as another 20% according to the Czech Energy Employer’s Union.

Between 1991 and 2005, on average Czech heating bills fell from 60 to 40 giga-joules annually. And, according to the ČTK news agency, it isn’t just heating that Czechs are saving on – water, electricity and gas consumption is also down. RWE Transgas, a major Czech gas supplier, has just raised prices by ten percent – it complains that its own costs have gone up by 12 percent in the last month alone as a result of global price increases and also the strong crown. Another Czech gas company E.on makes essentially the same argument, having raised prices by fifteen percent over the summer and with another five percent increase to come.

Naturally, one of the first education strategies that governments undertake when energy prices are high is to promote reduced usage. In the Czech Republic’s case, that message appears to have reached most Czechs already. Meanwhile, the country’s energy regulation authority has stated that it expects wind energy production to increase seven-fold next year, accounting for 1 percent of energy production - perhaps one way out of the current global energy crunch.