We need to reverse our thinking if we are serious about using less energy

Of course John Prescott is right ("How to cut energy use without pain", 20 November): we can reduce consumption and combat global warming with ease. The question is, will we?

No more homes are being insulated now than a decade ago, before we had any Rio conferences, Kyoto protocols or Buenos Aires agreements. Consumers are "enjoying" the lowest real prices for gas and electricity in a generation. They are bombarded with special offers from suppliers, to acquire air miles or supermarket-card points the more fuel is purchased. So why bother to save energy? It may cost them an average 1.7p to save a unit of electricity, compared with 4.3p to generate and transmit; but that is irrelevant to suppliers, who still make more money the more fuel we burn.

The only solution is to alter the regulatory system, placing inescapable obligations upon all those who seek to supply fuel to our homes. This would ensure they provide the direct financial assistance needed to help customers install measures that will reduce consumption. The secret is to reward these energy supply companies by allowing them to make more money the less, not the more, they sell. Without such a formula, Prescott has a Sisyphean task before him if he is really to cut energy use without pain.

Andrew Warren, Director
Association for the Conservation of Energy, London N1

This article first appeared in the 27 November 1998 issue of the New Statesman, How the left hijacked the family