Community rewarded for saving energy

Bristol neighbourhood earns nearly £4,000 in a pilot study to reduce energy use

3 March 2015

Last Friday, Easton residents were presented with a cheque for nearly £4,000 – one of several success stories from our Less is More project, run in partnership with Western Power Distribution (WPD) and funded by Ofgem. The year-long challenge rewarded Easton residents for reducing their peak electricity demand, by making small changes to their power usage; the less electricity the community used (especially at peak times), the more funding they earned. As well as prize money for the community, individual households benefited from lower energy bills and power saving know-how.

For CSE, the project provides a better understanding of how to encourage efficient energy use in the home. The value of this knowledge was recognised by Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, who presented the cheque at Easton Community Centre.

He said "This is fantastic news for local residents in Easton. I am delighted that this project has helped bring the community together and work collaboratively to develop a better understanding of energy usage and demand in general. WPD and CSE’s efforts in developing innovative ways to support local communities on such an important matter should be highly commended.”

Project manager Rachel Coxcoon, summarised why this project has been so worthwhile for CSE.

“Working on this campaign has been an exciting opportunity to raise awareness among the local community about energy usage and demand. It’s been great working with WPD, Easton Energy Group and motivated residents to help reduce their overall consumption. The Less is More project has also provided really useful feedback from the substation monitoring to help us know what’s most effective in terms of demand reduction.”

WPD are a district network operator and manage local electricity distribution networks. Part of this role is to ensure that substations can cope with peaks in energy use for the neighbourhoods they connect to. Reducing these peaks makes environmental and financial sense; it lowers the demand for carbon intensive electricity production (reducing environmentally damaging emissions). It also lessens the need for expensive network upgrades to cope with higher peak demand.

Easton was one of ten communities involved in the pilot, and others have reported similar positive results. A Cardiff neighbourhood made the regional news having earned an impressive amount through their energy-saving action.

CSE’s Joe McMullen was working closely with the community groups. “During the project we gathered information about the different communities’ attitudes to energy. We have followed this up with a series of interviews and focus groups to help evaluate the project. This information has enhanced our understanding of how best to engage with communities about energy.

And the project is hoped to have lasting results “We worked with Easton Energy Group volunteers, providing training and resources which will enable them to continue to work within their community” says Joe.

Energy-smart slow cookers, specially developed energy monitors and other freebies were trialled in various neighbourhoods to further reduce electricity use. Information crunching has begun at CSE to determine which energy saving activities lead to the most significant savings. A full evaluation, with our learnings from the project, will be released in April. One thing we have already learnt (but probably can’t take credit for) is that you get very good cake in Easton. Joe attended the cheque presentation where "the carrot cake with lemon butter cream icing was top notch!"

Image: Instinctif Partners Ltd

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