Less is More in Weston and Easton

How we’re helping communities to reduce peak use

1 July 2014

Washing lines, slow cookers, and new gadgetry are helping residents to reduce their peak electricity use in Bournville, Weston-Super-Mare and Greenbank, Easton.

Less is More is an interactive, community-scale demand reduction project, targeting groups of houses connected to the same electricity substation in various locations around the country. These communities can earn money for their local area by reducing their electricity use, particularly during peak times. They can see how much they are using and how they're getting on towards their targets on the project website [NB since closed]. Click here to find out more about the project.

Our Communities team have been helping things along with a few local initiatives. On the Bournville estate, they've put on a free slow cooker masterclass, and given away slow cookers to the residents who came along. Demonstrating the tasty things you can make in a slow cooker and showing people how to use them has a serious point: a slow cooker is a peak demand reduction device! Bournville's period of peak use is during the evening, when everybody is cooking their dinner. A slow cooker not only uses much less electricity than an oven, but spreads the electricity demand more evenly over several hours.

We've also donated new washing lines for the communal garden areas of the estate, so that more residents can hang their washing outside instead of using electricity-gobbling tumble dryers.

Meanwhile, in Greenbank, a member of Easton Energy Group (our local partner) has developed a special Greenbank Energy Monitor (or GEM) to help people engage with the project. It's a small device, about the size of a smartphone, that people can keep in their houses. When we've given these out, there will be a challenge each day during the peak time, lasting between 30 minutes and an hour. People can use their GEM to indicate that they are joining in with that day's energy-saving challenge and see how many others are doing the same.

We hope to see electricity use reducing a little during peak times as a result of these interventions. You can keep an eye on the usage graphs too, at www.lessismore.org.uk.

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