Energy Neighbourhoods is a European scheme to support groups of households to work together to reduce their household energy bills and greenhouse gas generation. The aim was to demonstrate how significant reductions can be made through simple changes in behaviour.
Groups of households tried to reduce their energy consumption over the winter period of 2008/2009. There was a competition to see who could reduce it the most compared with 2007/2008. The Severn Wye Energy Agency was managing the scheme in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire, funded by the two Councils.
A member of Sustainable Thornbury lead a group from the Thornbury and Alveston area, the only team in South Gloucestershire. This team came second in the UK with a 15% reduction.
There were weekly tips to help team members cut down, such as not overfilling your kettle when you boil it, turning off the lights when you leave a room, regularly defrosting your freezer, lowering room temperature by 1 degree (which can cut your heating bill by 10%). Some items continue to consume when on standby and some when switched off; so they need to be switched off at the socket. Other tips included changing the central heating so its only on when needed, showering rather than having a bath and even ironing less.
To help the team, some simple gadgets were supplied, such as:
low energy bulbs;
power down devices which automatically shut off computer peripherals when the computer is shut down;
Bye bye standby units to remotely shut things off supplied from an awkward to reach socket behind a chair.
energy monitors to plug in individual appliancess;
energy monitors which show the total electrical power a household is using
The group leader said afterwards, "If every British household did the same as us then around a billion pounds would be saved and a few billion tons less CO2 produced.
"Vigilance is the key. The energy monitors were very enlightening. After checking our 'background' consumption with everything turned off at the end of the day, we took action to reduce consumption by about 50 watts. One person in the scheme found out they had been paying over £120 a year to pump water in their pond!"
The group leader produced a presentation in 2010 on the results of the project to show to other local groups.
Energy monitors can now be borrowed from Thornbury library and from Sustainable Thornbury.
The Energy Neighbourhood web site has lots of information and tips.