BUNCH OF WASTERS; They're Making Huge Profits after Bumping Up Energy Bills

Article excerpt

Byline: GRAHAM HISCOTT

THIS is the shocking picture that proves British Gas bosses are full of hot air when it comes to energy advice.

A Mirror investigation today reveals the firm is guilty of a scandalous waste of energy.

It is a huge embarrassment for a firm which preaches to customers about ways to cut fuel costs.

Night-time photos taken with a special thermal-imaging camera at the supplier's headquarters show the building ablaze with lights and the heating pumping out.

It was the same story when we visited the sleek offices of British Gas's owner, Centrica.

We found both buildings still had the heating on when few, if any, staff would be working - especially in the case of British Gas.

There is also evidence that some parts of the British Gas HQ aren't properly insulated, allowing energy to escape. Paul Steedman, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "With soaring profits and bumper pay-outs for shareholders, British Gas obviously has money to burn on wasting energy."

All the Big Six energy suppliers boast about their "green" credentials, often pointing to the "free" insulation on offer to certain customers.

However, many of the loft and cavity wall insulation give-aways are paid for by a tax on all householders' energy bills. Faced with criticism over soaring energy prices, firms also give advice about ways customers can reduce their energy use.

British Gas has a section on its website dedicated to energy efficiency.

Among the tips, it urges users to "turn your heating down by 1C" and "turn off the lights you don't need or are not using".

But when we visited the firm's HQ in Staines, Middlesex, around 9pm, it appeared British Gas boss Phil Bentley and his staff haven't been listening to their own advice.

Not only were most of the lights on, but the thermal camera could tell the heating was firmly on throughout.

The readings were similar, and the lights all on, when we went to Centrica's headquarters in Windsor, Berkshire.

Yet it was a very different story when we visited the head offices of the other big suppliers - EDF Energy, npower, E.ON, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern Energy.

On each occasion the offices were in darkness and it appeared the heating was turned down. The Mirror launched its Fair Price for Power campaign after a second wave of energy price hikes in less than a year. British Gas raised gas prices by 18% and electricity in August - taking the firm's average dual-fuel bill up by pounds 190 to pounds 1,219 a year. …