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North-east residents pay more for warmth

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Residents in the north-east of England use far more gas but a lot less electricity than those in the rest of the country, according to a government study.

The study, which for the first time compares gas and electricity consumption in homes across Britain, reveals that the north-east has the highest gas consumption per household, with residents battling the cold weather. This is despite the same region having the lowest average earnings and the smallest homes in the country.

The study does, however, reveal that electricity consumption in the north-east is 15% below the national average, with people in South Tyneside using less than anywhere else in England.

The chief executive of National Energy Action, William Gillis, said the lower incomes of the region meant residents would be less likely to have electrical appliances such as dishwashers, tumble dryers, fridge freezers and computers. This, combined with careful use of energy, is probably the reason electricity usage is so low. Gillis also said the north-east had the highest rate of fuel poverty in England, which means residents spend more than 10% of income on maintaining adequate temperatures.

The professor of energy conversion at Newcastle University, Ian Fells, said the figures also demonstrated that people in other parts of the UK use electric heating more than in the north-east because there are more newbuilds in the south, for instance, and electric heating is cheaper to install. Prof Fells speculated that by 2007 property sellers would need to provide buyers with an estimate on the running costs of the residence.

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