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30 June 2014

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 June 30, 2014
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Category: Student Blog

Energize Worcester Annual Energy Saving Champion Anthony Ball reveals his secret on reducing energy bill in student house

Anthony Ball has just finished his final year studying joint honours History and Media and Cultural Studies. He is the Energize Worcester 2014 Energy Saving Champion.

For those who might not have watched my interviews for Energize Worcester, I found out about the project by being quite heavily involved in our Students’ Union already as a member of student staff.

Saving energy is something that in my 3rd year had been quite heavily playing on my mind. In my second year, my house wasn’t exactly careful with our energy usage (particularly gas). Over the winter, the boiler would frequently be left on overnight which was really wasteful. By March of semester two we had gone £700 over on our gas bill (this was in addition to the £17/month each that the six people in my house were already paying for energy). It was horrifying to think that in just seven months, taking into consideration what we’d been paying monthly, that we’d used roughly £1400 of gas and electric! I think that this is the biggest problem with leaving halls of residence where all bills are included in the rent, you don’t really have a realistic view of how much things cost because you’ve probably lived in a bubble all year long.

A very difficult few months and additional bill payments later, we’d squared our energy bills and all went into 3rd year with a completely different attitude. It took us one afternoon to sit down and work out our 3rd year timetables, when the heating should go on and for how long. I also bought timer plugs for the house as our boiler didn’t have a timer, meaning that we could regulate our heating with minimal effort. I’m not going to say that at times the house wasn’t cold; that’s usually part of the deal of having a student house – our landlord openly admitted that our house had no insulation midway through winter – but it was better than the alternative.

This was where the Energize Worcester dashboard became a useful tool; we took our meter readings monthly to keep a closer eye on things, plugged them into the website and watched month by month as the graphs on the dashboard changed, they showed that we were doing well in comparison to the national average for a house in our condition.

Whilst it was also nice to see our bill credit going up and up on our provider’s website, they didn’t offer any sort of comparison, so in many ways Energize Worcester was more helpful in monitoring our energy usage – I’m sure many people hate just staring at numbers when it comes to bills, the energize dashboard has been a really useful supplement.

Once we got into the swing of things with energy, and had a better idea of how it cost to heat our house and an accurate comparison, we upped our usage on bills and started to enjoy things more.

Winning Energize Worcester has been extremely gratifying, just a small amount of planning has led to a bills refund and a £100 award! The timer plug at £5 has more than served its purpose; there really is no reason why energy saving can’t be easy. Another of my tips is to make a house Facebook group, it means that everyone can keep an easy record of what’s happening month-on-month and you can always refer back to it should you need to.

I hope that Energize Worcester continues to grow, I’ve met a few people also enrolled on the scheme and it’s interesting to hear their opinions on energy saving. I will continue to use it as long as I’m in my student house, even though the competition period has ended, it will be very interesting to see an annual summary at the end of August!

Cheers if you’ve read this far and I hope it wasn’t boring! Big thanks to Peng Li, the Energize Worcester project manager for getting me involved, and good luck for next year to anyone who is reading this!

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