Urban electricity costs are rising, and sometimes the smallest steps can make a huge difference in your monthly bill.
The Vidyut Rakshaka Initiative is an easy-to-enforce behaviour and energy efficiency initiative, that could help you combat rising electricity bills, reports The Hindu.
The initiative began in 2015 and has seen those following it diligently save around 23% energy during this time.
What is the Vidyut Rakshaka initiative, and how can it help you?
This concept was created and led by the World Resources Institute and Technology Informatives Design Endeavour (TIDE).
In its pilot, Vidyut Rakshaka (VR) ran with 500 households in Bengaluru in a gated community in Sarjapura and Malleswaram. In six months, VR was able to show savings of 16.4% in about 48% of the participating households.
This translated to savings of 13,711 units of electricity every month in 252 households or potentially, two million units (MU) per day of saving, if extended to all households in Bengaluru alone. A greater impact is expected in the coming years as the project is scaled up across other cities.
At a global conference held in New Delhi earlier this year, Sumathy Krishnan, executive director of NGO Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE) spoke about energy efficiency. She said, “Vidyut Rakshaka was conceptualised to create awareness on energy efficiency and energy conservation. It gives customised and generic recommendations leading to savings in electricity consumption for participants. It also tracks consumption in defined neighbourhood in the relevant BHK category and provides comparison with ideal consumption model.”
There are two categories: ‘savers’ and ‘spenders’; the former being those that followed the recommendations, and the latter being those that didn’t. The ‘savers’ reported savings of 23% in energy consumption, while the ‘spenders’ reported a 34% increase in energy consumption, respectively.
As the first Indian city to adopt this experiment, Bengaluru, had around 2,000 citizens from localities like Bilekahalli, Jalahalli, Bellandur and Mahadevpura sign up. The initiative helped them to understand their pattern of electricity usage and tweak inefficient behaviour in the consumption of electrical appliances.
According to Sumedha Malaviya, Senior Project Associate, WRI India, in The Hindu, the initiative initially had ‘VR stewards’ sign up households and communities for the experiment, after which recommendations for individual households were drawn up based on the usage of their appliances.
She told the publication, “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 went on to add that even though a good percentage of households changed their consumption behaviour, spenders continued to increase consumption–a characteristic of improved standards of living and increased number of appliances.
Even seasons are taken into account, but according to researchers, this made a negligible difference, although the water heater was a consistent load and there was a slight difference in AC usage in Bengaluru.
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In a statement to The Better India, Sumathy K. from TIDE, which is leading and implementing the initiative on-ground with BESCOM’s support, said, “The unique aspect of this program is how we are leveraging technology for a behavioural change. And the encouraging results are due to the active citizen engagement which TIDE has achieved through strong grass root reach.”
The program is powered by Societe Generale Global Solution Centre (SG GSC), under its CSR program.
Sumathy also added, “Yes, you can save quite a bit with just a behavioural change. We have observed an average savings of 3,165 units of electricity annually for each household. This could be the savings of every participant. Our recommendations and goals are based on moving to a lower slab so that the money saved is not just a function of units saved, but a lower cost per unit as well. The performance is measured relative to the community or neighbourhood’s average. Therefore, participants are aware of where they stand.”
Ms Malaviya is optimistic about the prospects of this initiative and said that the first phase was to try to nudge consumers to change behaviours through customised recommendations and community comparisons, while the next phase will focus on the consistency of that behaviour. An upcoming mobile application of this project will further help participants keep tabs on their consumption.
Visit this page to know more about the Vidyut Rakshaka Programme and enrol to do your bit for a greener planet.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)