Why is the UK reluctant to follow the EU and ask people to cut their energy use?

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On top of eye-watering bills, energy security in the UK has become a rising concern.

Earlier this month, a report leaked to Bloomberg showed the government has drawn up crisis plans for a situation in the winter where businesses and households could face blackouts.

Following the leak, No 10 said such blackouts will not happen and consumers shouldn't panic. Downing Street and Kwasi Kwarteng, who's tipped to be Liz Truss' chancellor if she becomes PM in September, have also ruled out asking Brits to curb their energy use to avoid blackouts.

When countries across Europe are asking for households and businesses to watch their energy usage, why does the UK seem reluctant to do the same?

Why are European countries asking people to use less energy?

Russia has started cutting energy supplies to the EU, a major consumer of Moscow's gas and oil, in a battle of wills over the war in Ukraine.

As a result, the vast majority of countries in the bloc agreed last month to reduce their gas use by 15% to avoid an energy crisis.

Officials in the German city of Hanover have switched to cold showers in all public buildings, while the Netherlands’ government is urging its people to take showers of no more than five minutes. The Dutch have also been asked to air dry their laundry and limit how often they use air conditioning.

Similar strategies have been introduced in Spain, France and Italy.

"The governments seems to be tackling the issue from the demand side," Hafez Abdo an associate professor at the University of Nottingham's Energy Institute told ITV News.

"This will help, but I doubt it will solve the problem," he said, adding that the EU's recent reliance on Russian energy may be too large for individual changes to make a difference.

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Why are No 10 and Kwasi Kwarteng reluctant to copy Europe?

A Downing Street spokesperson said they won't follow Europe as gas use and electricity use "remain decisions for individuals".

According to the Guardian, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has opposed suggestions from civil servants that the public should be asked to cut their energy use.

Mr Abdo explains that it may not be necessary to follow Europe's policies as prior to the Ukraine war, only around 4% of the UK's gas supply was imported from Russia.

He said: "In the UK we are blessed with a diversity of [energy] sources."

Is there a political reason for the UK's stance?

"Consider these two questions," ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen says.

"Should you wear a jumper if you're cold? This is completely innocuous.

"Does the prime minister think you should wear a jumper if they're cold? This is so politically charged that when the prime minister's spokesman said people might want to consider that advice, if it was given by a charity, there was a small political storm.

"This was in October 2018 when energy prices were rising to what we would now consider quaintly affordable levels. You can still read about this odd affair if you search 'jumpergate'."

The squeeze on gas supplies in Europe has helped to drive up household bills.

The problem is, much as they do now, people expect the government to do something about rising energy bills, Mr Dinnen explained.

"The suggestion that the prime minister might say 'stick a jumper on' instead was therefore dangerous for No 10. It looked callous.

"And perhaps that is why ministers are so reluctant to start handing out energy-saving suggestions today. They are busy trying to be reassuring about maintaining energy supply and saying they will help the most vulnerable with bills which are much more serious than in 2018.

"So suggesting people stick a jumper on and try to minimise their energy use - which most of us will be doing anyway - might not give the competent and caring impression they would like to get across."

Why might the UK need to ask the public to limit their energy use?

Although the UK does not rely on Russia for gas and oil as much as the EU does, it has still been hit a global shortage of the commodities.

"During winter, if the temperature really drops and we need to use more energy to keep ourselves warm, that means the demand might grow bigger than supply. This might be where the fear of blackouts comes from," Mr Abdo said.

Alongside the leaked government report, which raised the possibility of blackouts this winter, the National Grid confirmed it was working on plans for easing the strain on its network.

It said households with smart meters could be paid for turning off high-energy appliances such as washing machines during peak times.