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ENERGY

What can Norway do to cut your rising energy bills?

Organisations and experts in Norway have joined forces and proposed several ways for the government to reduce energy consumption and shrink electricity bills for consumers.

Organisations have outlined how energy bills in Norway could be slashed through government funding.
Organisations have outlined how energy bills in Norway could be slashed through government funding. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

A group of 21 organisations have come together with several proposals for Norway’s next government to cut down on energy bills and reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

Among the proposals, the organisations are asking the government to pump one billion kroner per year into helping homes and businesses reduce their electricity consumption by making them more energy efficient.

“Now we see that the price of electricity can be high. But helping people to use less electricity can make households less vulnerable to the rises,” Bård Folke Fredriksen, CEO of the Norwegian Housing Association (NBBL), told public broadcaster NRK.

The NBBL is among the consumer, environmental, employee and industrial organisations lobbying the government to invest in cutting energy consumption and offer support to households struggling to pay their electricity bills.

Energy price records have been set throughout the end of summer and early autumn in southern Norway mean many households have been feeling the pinch recently, with energy prices expected to continue to rise throughout the winter.

READ ALSO: Rising energy prices: How to save on your Norwegian electricity bill

Fredriksen believes that up to 20Twh a year, or twice as much power as the country produces in wind energy, could be saved by cutting waste.

The Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation backs the proposals and says that making sure homes are more energy efficient is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

“Energy saving is the largest, cheapest and most environmentally friendly power plant we have, but it has unfortunately not been developed,” Truls Gullowsen from the society for conservation told NRK.

In addition to the funding and the financial help for households, the proposals include schemes aimed at helping housing associations reduce electricity usage, helping certain groups access funds to make their homes more efficient through the housing bank, making sure municipalities have a service where they can offer free energy advice and offering grants to local authorities that implement energy-saving measures.

Fredriksen, whose group represents 1.1 million members and 570,000 homes across the country, says schemes aimed at helping housing associations invest in greener energy are essential.

“It can be difficult to get a majority for large investments in the housing association. But if you get a carrot by saving electricity and getting support from Enova (the state-owned enterprise for helping the country move towards green energy), then more people will be motivated to join,” he explained.

Energy spokesperson for the Labour Party, Espen Barth Eide, said the party wouldn’t comment on the proposals while still in government negotiations.

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MONEY

How do food prices in Norway compare to the rest of Europe? 

Known just as much for its high prices as its stunning scenery, Norway doesn't have a reputation as a cheap place to live. But how much does food cost, and how does it compare to the rest of Europe? 

How do food prices in Norway compare to the rest of Europe? 

Famously known for being on the pricey side, Norway has many factors that draw foreign residents, such as the scenery, wages and work-life balance. 

However, one common complaint is the high prices. Is the cost of food and groceries as bad as everyone says? 

Unfortunately, according to the statistics, Norway lives up to its reputation for expensive food and groceries. 

Eurostat, which monitors price levels across the EU, EEA and EU candidate countries, has ranked Norway as the country with the second highest price level index for food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Out of the countries monitored by the stats agency, only Switzerland had a higher price level index. A price level index measures the price levels of a given nation relative to other countries. This means that compared to the rest of the other countries measured, food and non-alcoholic beverages in Norway are the second most expensive overall. 

According to Eurostat’s data and price level index, prices in Norway were 49 percent higher than the EU average in 2021. Norway also had the highest price for fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and ‘other food’ products. ‘Other foods’ consist of chocolates, sugars, jams etc. 

READ ALSO: Why food in Norway is so expensive

In addition, non-alcoholic beverages in Norway were also the most expensive found among 36 European countries. The price of alcoholic drinks in Norway lived up to their reputation for priciness, with the cost of alcoholic beverages being 160 percent higher than the average and the second most expensive after Iceland

Scandinavia as a whole has a reputation for high prices, so how did Norway compare in this regard? 

Finland had the lowest overall food prices out of Scandinavian countries when measured by the price level index for food and non-alcoholic beverages. This was followed by Sweden, which had a score of 117, Denmark with 120 and Iceland with 139. 

This highlights that even among the Nordics, Norway is an expensive country for food. 

One noticeable trend is that the food prices in Norway are becoming less expensive compared to the European average. In 2018, food prices in Norway were 63 percent higher than the European average. Three years on, this had fallen to 49 percent. 

Even though the prices are high, is it really that expensive when considering wages? 

While food is certainly more expensive in Norway than in most countries, wages are also considerably higher. 

For example, the average monthly salary in Norway was 50,790 kroner per month in 2021. This equates to just over 5,000 euros. In 2022, the estimated monthly average wage in the EU was around 2,570 euros. However, it’s worth pointing out that large differences exist between EU countries. For example, the average monthly wage in Bulgaria was estimated to be around 852 euros, while in Denmark, it’s estimated to be about 5,979 euros (44,514 Danish kroner). 

Therefore, a more accurate way of measuring the true cost of food would be to measure how much of a household’s monthly income is spent on food. 

In Romania, food made up more than a quarter of household expenditure, making food more expensive there for households as it eats up a larger chunk of consumers’ budgets, despite lower prices than the EU average. Across 36 countries measured by Eurostat, food and non-alcoholic beverages made up around 13 percent of total consumption expenditure by households. 

In this regard, Norwegians actually spend less money on food than other European households. Food and non-alcoholic beverages accounted for 11.3 percent of households’ total spending in 2022, according to Statistics Norway

Typically, someone aged 31-50 years will spend between 3,100 – 3,660 kroner per month on food, according to the Consumption Research Norway’s (SIFO) Reference Budget for Consumer Expenditures

So even while Norway spends more money on food, it’s less expensive overall as it takes up a lower portion of household expenditure. fra

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