Power bills are soaring in Europe, and the new generation of smart-phones is forcing consumers to make a decision.
But for many in the UK, the answer to the rising cost of electricity is not as simple as switching off the lights.
The UK’s national electricity supplier, the E.ON, said last week that it had recorded a record 4.3bn hours of blackouts this year, compared with a peak of 3.7bn hours in 2012.
In the US, there were just over 400,000 outages last week, up from a peak in 2014 of more than 300,000.
There are signs that the trend is slowing, with the average number of black out days per month dropping from 4.4 to 3.5, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a Washington-based research organisation.
But this is not just a question of how much electricity we are using, as power is often bought at higher rates than it can produce.
On is also facing an increasing number of complaints from customers, and some have already started paying more attention to the cost of their electricity.
A survey by the UK’s Independent Energy Buyers Association (Ibuy) found that in the past year, almost a quarter of households had switched off their lights, compared to 22% of customers in the United States.
Ibuy chief executive David Coughlan said it was “quite obvious” that consumers were struggling with the cost, with consumers in England and Wales paying almost double the average price of electricity in the US.
“We think the price of energy in the whole UK has gone up by about 40 per cent in a very short period of time, which is really quite shocking,” he said.
Energy prices in the EU have been on a rise for decades, partly due to the rapid growth of renewable energy.
The E.P.A. expects the average European electricity bill to jump by over 100 per cent this year and by more than 500 per cent over the next three years.
According to the European Commission, electricity prices are rising in the bloc as a whole by 5 per cent a year, but in Britain, the rise has been much more pronounced.
That is partly because energy costs are rising faster in the eurozone, which accounts for just 12 per cent of the EU economy.
In Germany, which has the highest average price per kilowatt hour, the increase has been twice that of the UK.
This has led to the question of whether Britain’s current energy-price deal with the EU should be renegotiated, which some politicians in Westminster are pushing for.
Conservative MP Paul Maynard, who represents the seat of Exeter, has called for a “nuclear option” in the negotiations, and has suggested that the EPRC should negotiate a lower price for British energy.
He has also argued that the EU needs to make it harder for companies to export electricity.
On Friday, the Department for Energy and Climate Change said that it was reviewing whether it could make a “preliminary determination” on the ERC’s proposals.
Some Conservative MPs are concerned that the Brexit process will only help the UK to make the case for its exit from the EU.
But others are sceptical.
Conservative MP Stephen Hammond said the ECRC was not doing enough to make its case, and said the Government had “put pressure on E.on to deliver more affordable electricity for all British consumers”.
The Government is looking to the EPC to provide a new market for the UK market, but Hammond added that he hoped the ECP would be able to “find a balance between the need to protect energy security and protecting consumer choice”.
Last week, the UK Government announced plans to extend the life of the power grid from 2036 to 2024.
More: UK’s electricity bills could rise by more in 2036 and 2024.