Utility Week

Utility Week 22nd September 2017

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Page 27 of 31

28 | 22ND - 28TH SEPTEMBER 2017 | UTILITY WEEK Customers Market view L ike flying blind, mountaineering with- out a map, studying a menu without prices or travelling by train without a timetable – if we don't have the right infor- mation at the right time, we can't possibly hope to make an informed decision about our energy behaviour. Smart meters are playing a vital role in helping us rethink how we're using energy – becoming our flight control panel, our map and our timetable for energy use, providing accurate billing and near real-time informa- tion expressed simply in pounds and pence. Eight in ten people who have had a smart meter installed take steps to reduce their energy use through this real-time visibility. We know from behavioural science that it is possible to empower people to change even entrenched behaviours for the better – but they need the right tools and informa- tion, at the right time and delivered in the right way, for this to take place. Last year, Smart Energy GB published a white paper, A Smart Route to Change, set- ting out how everyone involved in Britain's smart meter rollout should apply behav- ioural science to help change our energy use for the better. Following this paper, we've tested some resources for use in schools, examining the role school pupils can play in initiating conversations within the family about energy use. We found that children can be an impor- tant instigator of change. Our pilot project, Smart Squad, made a real and sustained dif- ference to primary school pupils' knowledge of energy efficiency by bringing them closer to the level of understanding that secondary school pupils already have – leading to a direct change in their energy conservation awareness. Specialist education consultancy EdComs carried out the three-month project in 12 schools across Wales on our behalf. Teach- ers used worksheets, classroom-based chal- lenges and homework diaries to build energy awareness materials into the curriculum from science and geography to Personal and Social Education (PSE) and global citizen- ship lessons. Pupils were also encouraged to discuss smart meters and energy efficiency with their families at home. The Smart Squad project had two impor- tant outcomes. First, it raised awareness of energy efficiency in the home. Some 86 per cent of primary pupils correctly identified hanging clothes to dry rather than using the tumble dryer as energy-efficient behaviour six weeks aer participating in the project, compared with 62 per cent of the control group. More than half of participating pupils (54 per cent primary, 57 per cent secondary) also said they learned how to identify good energy habits from the project. Secondly and more significantly, the findings showed that the project really did change behaviours – not only among chil- dren but their families too. Immediately aer the project, more than 60 per cent of primary school pupils said they or their family now turned the lights off every time they le the room – a 13 per cent increase on the rate reported before participating in the project. Additionally, more than half of pupils (52 per cent) reported conversations about Smart Squad at home aer taking part in the project. This lasted six weeks once the project had finished, with 49 per cent saying they had spoken to their parents about Smart Squad "in the last few weeks". The vast majority of parents (83 per cent) also said they were aware that their child had taken part in a lesson on energy efficiency. The ability to understand the impact of behaviour is a strong catalyst for change – as is the conversation within households that results. Our pilot has shown just one way the national rollout of smart meters can engage people with the way they use gas and elec- tricity, empowering families to take control of their energy through positive behaviour change. As the national rollout continues, we hope to work with others in the energy industry and beyond to explore more ways that behavioural science can help Britain to reduce its carbon footprint. Claire Maugham, director of policy and communications, Smart Energy GB A smart route to change A project teaching primary school pupils about energy efficiency led to their families getting the message too, says Claire Maugham.

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