To the world, Abhishek looked like a happy content professional working with one of the largest consulting firms in the world. Armed with an IIT degree, that is how it was supposed to be or that is how everyone thought. It was the year 2008, he was working with Deloitte, USA; he married Manisha, an energy efficiency engineer working with TERI. Together they came back to India in the year 2009 and little did he know that she will provide the fuel to the energy inside him. They bought a house like any other couple and started setting it up. Manisha was careful about what to buy and what not. The attention she paid to the kind of lights, refrigerator, air-conditioner to be put in the house was immense. Abhishek took the cue. He always wanted to do something on his own, now with Manisha’s interest and expertise in energy efficiency, he knew exactly where to begin. He quit his job with Deloitte and dedicated himself fully into the concept of energy efficiency.
What is Energy Efficiency?
Energy efficiency has been identified worldwide as the least cost measure for climate change mitigation. One of the major challenges that energy efficiency in India faces is lack of credible information to the consumers. The challenge is even bigger for smaller consumers such as households, small offices/shops and SMEs. While there are a wide range of options available to consumers to save electricity and reduce bills, many a times, they are not aware of these options. Government undertakes various initiatives to promote energy efficiency in small consumers by way of awareness creation, appliance labeling, discount/exchange schemes on appliances etc. However, it is observed that despite the large benefits that the consumer will get, the uptake of such schemes is very low. Two of the most common reasons are 1) the consumers do not get to know about the scheme 2) the consumer do not understand how the scheme will benefit them and how much will they save in their bills.
Due to increasing costs of electricity in all the parts of the country, there is an increased willingness to learn ways to keep the consumption in control. In order to do so, it is essential to first monitor the consumption. It requires knowing your appliances, how much should they consume, how much do they actually consume and is there a scope for reducing. It is important to make a note here that energy efficiency is different from energy conservation. In energy efficiency, the same level of comfort is derived from efficient use of energy.
How does Bijli Bachao help us achieve Energy Efficiency?
With the backdrop of energy efficiency as the concept, Abhishek launched a website – www.bijlibachao.in. The site was intended to disseminate information about how to use various electrical appliances and to help people understand how much they are spending on various appliances. Abhishek and Manisha themselves undertook experiments and then shared information on how electricity could be utilized in the most efficient way. It gives small and important details like what temperature should the AC be set on or where the refrigerator in a house should be placed. The site extensively also covers how to read the electricity bill. In fact, Abhishek himself makes a point to read his own electricity bill and compare it with his neighbors. In any given month, when they spend close to Rs.1500, the neighbors end up paying Rs.6000. After spreading awareness broadly about energy issues, he plans to gradually move to finer details. For example, an electricity bill calculator has been put up on the site which any person may use to understand the components of the electricity bill for a residential unit including the expenditure on each appliance. This will be eventually developed into a calculator that can be used for commercial complexes as well.
Since its launch, the website has garnered a lot of interest and gets several visitors in a day. Estimating the actual impact of such visits on changes in patterns of usage will be definitely very difficult. The impact will be different for different types of consumers. There will be some consumers who are completely unaware of the concepts of saving electricity and the website helps them take their first step for saving. There will be others who are looking for specific information about specific appliances and the website helps them by providing such information.
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But for Abhishek and Manisha, the work does not stop here. They want to get to a level where they can help people completely decode their electricity bills, and understand where they are spending more, and how it can be reduced. They are building several software components for the same, some of which (for refrigerators, water heaters, fans and lights) are already available on their website. Along with the software, the tips on the website help in understanding how electricity consumption can be reduced for various appliances. They have also started a monthly newsletter where they provide latest updates and newest electricity saving tip on the website along with seasonal tips.
As part of their initiative they are also planning to start a service ‘help@bijlibachao’ where individuals can contact them on Internet and get their problems related to electricity savings resolved. The service will be more personalized and they will provide tips relevant to the person asking for help. They have also started working with residential societies in Mumbai, helping them save electricity and trying to work out ways to reach out to many more societies in the country.
What does the future look like?
At later stages, Bijli Bachao plans to offer its stakeholders many more products and services in this space. The stakeholders will include manufacturers and suppliers of energy efficient products in addition to energy consumers and also policy makers. Some of the future products and services will include online audits, database creation and management and a market place for energy efficient products.
Bijli Bachao is a small step from ignorance to awareness in the wake of the rapidly depleting resources of the nation. It dreams of helping India towards sustainable development, an India where there is electricity for all, an India where there are no power cuts and an India self-sufficient in meeting its own energy needs.