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Utilities

Gas and electricity – the energy industry explained

img More than 2,000 power stations across the UK generate our energy. They are powered by gas, coal, and nuclear energy. Around 4% of our electricity comes from renewable energy installations including hydro power schemes and wind farms. The six largest energy suppliers in Britain are British Gas, Powergen, npower, Scottish & Southern Energy, ScottishPower and EDF Energy. Together they control 99% of the market. The market for renewable energy is growing all the time.


What is a water supplier?


img Water suppliers are the companies that provide water only and water and sewerage for general domestic use to the UK’s homes. Suppliers are responsible for all customers in an agreed geographical region and customers are currently unable to switch from one water supplier to another. There are currently 25 water suppliers covering England, Scotland and Wales. Water suppliers are the companies that provide water only and water and sewerage for general domestic use to the UK’s homes. Suppliers are responsible for all customers in an agreed geographical region and customers are currently unable to switch from one water supplier to another. There are currently 25 water suppliers covering England, Scotland and Wales. Your water supplier has a duty to supply you with a continuous supply of water at an adequate pressure for your daily use. Your water should be safe to drink and the quality is regulated by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) for England and Wales. Each water supplier is tested regularly by inspectors to ensure the water is safe to drink. Tests will cover bacteria, chemicals such as nitrate and pesticides, metals such as lead and the way the water looks and how it tastes. Your water pressure should be sufficient to fill a one gallon (4.5 litre) container in 30 seconds.

Home phones explained

img Since deregulation, phone companies have been vying for new customers with traditional BT services. Although BT is still the main provider of fixed phone lines, you can also switch to an 'indirect access' supplier, who will redirect your calls across their own network. Or you may choose to buy a ‘bundle’ of broadband with your phone package, with or without a shiny-new Voice over IP service on top.

 

Does everyone have to switch to digital TV?

img Our much loved analogue TV network that has been in place since the 1920s is going to be switched off by 2012. This isn’t a mean or cost saving gesture by the government: it’s only by switching off analogue transmission that the government can increase the availability of digital services to everyone – which promises many more channels, better picture quality, and a whole host of other optional extras. So you’ll need to be prepared. As a result, all televisions will have to be enabled to receive digital TV. This can be done either by buying a digital TV set top box (stb or digibox), or buying an integrated digital television that has a digital tuner built in (DTV). You’ll also need to choose your reception method – aerial, cable, telephone/ASDL or satellite, and get connected. Depending on the provider you choose, they may do this for you.