[Editorial] It starts with energy saving

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[Editorial] It starts with energy saving

The cold wave has relented and the climate has become warmer as the calendar moves toward spring. But the chill will likely continue due to high energy charges. Gas and electricity bills will climb higher as warned by the government late last year. To address the astronomical deficits the Korea Electric Power Corporation and the Korea Gas Corporation have bene suffering, utility rates would have to be raised incrementally to reach twice higher from last year’s levels by 2026 starting this year, the Yoon Suk Yeol administration warned last December.

Heating gas bills already doubled or tripled from the normal levels in January. Gas fees are exploding after a drawn-out cap despite the shortage of energy supplies from the previous Moon Jae-in administration’s nuclear phase-out policy and the spike in international energy prices from Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Replacement through cheaper energy sources such as nuclear fuel would certainly help stabilize soaring utility prices. But that cannot be done immediately. For the time being, energy saving is the sole solution. Korea relies on imports for 93 percent of its energy sourcing. Nevertheless, the country is the world’s 10th biggest energy consumer and the seventh biggest electricity consumer. In terms of energy consumption per person among the 10 largest energy-using countries, Korea is the No. 4 spender of energy. In terms of electricity consumption, Korea is ranked third.

We wear short sleeves at home during winter, and stores keep doors open with air-conditioning on during summer. Farcical episodes also happen in the meantime. The government and public enterprises are required to keep indoor heating at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) during winter and air-conditioning at 28 degrees Celsius. Government employees complain that they cannot endure the cold and heat while they are working.

The JoongAng Ilbo has been campaigning for energy saving since January. We investigated excessive uses of energy while trying to discover exemplary cases of energy saving. Lighting can be replaced with energy-efficient LED and supermarkets can fit transparent doors on their freezers or coolers. Inverters also can help lift energy efficiency and apartment units should have separate heat controllers instead of the centralized heating system. An extra coat also can save energy costs in colder weather.

But we still have a long way to go. The public sector has been campaigning for energy saving since last October, but findings show consumption by local governments has rather increased from the previous year. Voluntary saving is the most important of all. But replacing the old and inefficient energy system is also needed. Needless to say, energy saving is the only golden rule during inflationary period.
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