A saviour that helps shrink power bills

Residents reduce energy consumption by around 23% with Vidyut Rakshaka initiative

October 20, 2018 12:28 am | Updated 10:19 am IST - Bengaluru

Do you turn the lights off when you leave the room? Do you ensure that your water usage is efficient? Simple interventions such as these can go a long way in combating the rising electricity bills, which have been compounded not just by an increasing number of electrical appliances, but also annual hikes in tariff.

It is with this aim that the Vidyut Rakshaka (VR), an easy-to-enforce behaviour and energy efficiency initiative, was started in 2015. Since its implementation, those who have stuck to the recommendations have reported energy savings of around 23% in two-and-a-half years.

Conceptualised and led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE), the results of the initiative for 1,280 valid participants showed total savings of 4%. The category that followed the recommendations — termed the ‘savers’ (701) — reported savings of 23%, while those who did not — ‘spenders’ (579) — showed an increase of 34% in energy consumption.

Touted to be the first Indian city to have adopted this experiment, the project had around 2,000 citizens from localities such as Bilekahalli, Jalahalli, Bellandur, and Mahadevpura sign up to understand their electricity usage pattern and tweak inefficient behaviour in the consumption of electrical appliances.

Sumedha Malaviya, senior project associate, WRI India, said the initiative initially had ‘VR stewards’ sign up households and communities for the experiment, after which recommendations for individual households based on the appliances they have and their usage were drawn up. “For example, if a house has four fans that are over 10 years old, and some of them run only for a few hours, we recommend buying new fans that need not have to be five-star appliances, so that it works out for them,” she said.

For comparison sake, apart from three years’ history of the households, which Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) provides, community averages (of around 20 households in one PIN code) are utilised.

Though a good percentage of households changed their consumption behaviour, Ms. Malaviya said spenders continued to increase consumption, a typical pattern with improved conditions of living and increased number of appliances. The programme also factored in seasonality, but researchers said in Bengaluru, there was not much of a difference, though water heater was a consistent load and there was only a slight change in AC usage. “The first phase was to nudge consumers to change behaviour through customised recommendations and community comparisons. The current phase is to come up with a working paper by picking up consistent behaviour,” she said.

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