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Pioneering community project helps cut energy use

A study of hundreds of households living in one of London’s most deprived boroughs has shown they can cut household energy consumption using new smart metering and energy efficiency solutions.

From Press releases - 10 August 2017 12:00 AM

UK Power Networks, the company that keeps the lights on in London, is exploring through their initiative energywise how nearly 300 residents in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, who may be struggling with fuel bills, can reduce their energy costs by changing the way they use electricity.
The research shows that participants were able to save money by reducing their energy consumption on average by 3.3% a year, which is the equivalent of using 5% less electricity at peak times. It proved that customers who may struggle to pay their energy bills can save just as much as any other demographic once they are engaged in the smart meter rollout.

The participants were approached and guided by customer advisers who were working in close collaboration with local community groups to explain the potential benefits of the programme and how it would be implemented in customers’ homes.

The initiative was well received by local residents, with a 40% uptake on the programme. More than 85% of active participants have now chosen to take part in a second trial investigating different tariffs that have significant potential to benefit customers.

The results of the study will be used to inform policy makers and local authorities, energy suppliers, charities and housing bodies working with fuel poor households to ensure the smart meter roll-out goes smoothly for everyone. It has gathered invaluable insights on how to deliver energy efficiency measures, including smart meters, to hard-to-reach customers and has demonstrated how to remove barriers to energy-saving opportunities among households who need it the most.

One participant said: “You can manage your budgets much better. It’s a big saving. The meter helps me to know where I’m at.”

Dr Giulia Privitera, innovation engineer at UK Power Networks said, “This project demonstrates our commitment to our most vulnerable and hard-to-reach customers by making sure they can share the same smart meter benefits and energy efficiency measures as any other customers.

“Energywise is informing how we can engage different groups. It has shown that smart meters, combined with a tailored support strategy, can make people more aware of their energy use. Working with people in the local community has been hugely successful for customer engagement, especially as many participants don’t have English as their first language. We are delighted that the first phase of the project has shown such positive results.”

UK Power Networks is pioneering ways for DNOs to work collaboratively with energy suppliers and local trusted organisations to deliver appropriate services to hard-to-reach communities.

On this project, UK Power Networks worked closely with a number of partners on the project including the charity National Energy Action, British Gas, the community centre of Bromley by Bow, Tower Hamlets Homes, Poplar HARCA and University College London.