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Why E.ON wants its customers to use less power.

Why E.ON wants its customers to use less power

It stands to reason: the more electricity and gas an energy company's customers consume, the more money it will make. So why would an energy business want its customers to use less power?

E.ON UK, one of Britain's largest electricity and gas suppliers, claims to care about more than short-term profit. 'Our ideal is to have more customers, all using less energy,' the company states on its website. 'It's better for you, as you will be saving energy and money. It's better for us, because you will be happier customers who want to stay with us.'

As part of this quest, E.ON UK has devised a 12-month plan named Energy Fit to help its customers to waste less energy. They complete a survey at the start of the 12-month period, with questions about the construction of their home and how they use energy as part of their daily lives. The company, in conjunction with the consumer, then sets a number of goals for energy reduction. A free energy monitor tracks energy usage in real time, while software enables the customer to track and analyse the data. Progress towards the goals is assessed when the year has elapsed, and a new set of goals is produced for the following year.

In the December 2010 Issue of Quality World, Moore describes the working of Energy Fit and details how E.ON UK reduced its own energy consumption by 8% in a single year, saving the business more than £300,000.

E.ON UK's parent company - based in Düsseldorf and with more than 85,000 employees operating in over 30 countries - is the world's largest investor-owned power and gas company. The February 2011 issue of The Economist examines the underlying reasons for the success of German firms such as E.ON on the international stage.

The article claims Germany's biggest companies have unwound the cross-shareholdings with the country's leading banks that 'protected managers from the grumbles of other shareholders and from takeovers'. A wave of new chief executives has cut underperforming units and focused on growth. Labour markets have been liberalized through legislative reforms.

The article describes how many German businesses have outsourced manufacturing, particularly to the ex-communist countries that neighbour it. German firms have also received public-sector support in identifying new product and market opportunities, such as security, biotechnology and green energy.

Almost 25% of patents awarded in 2007 for renewable-energy technologies went to German businesses, says the article, while generous subsidies have made Germany the world's biggest market for solar-power installations.

Back in the UK, E.O has significant involvement in the London Array, a planned offshore wind farm under construction in the Thames Estuary. With 1,000 megawatt (MW) capacity from 341 wind turbines covering 90 square miles, it is expected to become the world's largest offshore wind farm, capable of supplying the electricity needs of around 750,000 homes each year. The company also operates one of the country's largest dedicated biomass plants.

Through its energy manifesto - Carbon, Cost and Consequences - E.ON UK is seeking to make the energy debate 'more real, more honest and more urgent' as the business squares up to the need to replace 25% of its power stations in the next decade in a way that will reduce carbon emissions, ensure continuous supply and keep energy affordable. 'We know the challenge has to be met,' concludes E.ON UK chief executive Paul Golby. 'That's why we are helping every customer get Energy Fit. Only by becoming more aware of how to use energy efficiently can we transform our homes and the way we live to ensure we all play our part in helping to keep our bills down and reduce carbon emissions.'