Online tool helps cut energy bills

A free online tool created at Oxford University gives householders regular feedback on their energy usage.

A free online tool created by the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at Oxford University’s Centre for the Environment and the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) is now available to give householders regular feedback on their energy usage.

The so-called 'imeasure' tool was developed for two reasons. First, the researchers wanted to create a tool that gave people the ability to easily monitor their energy use and carbon emissions so that they could identify potential ways to save energy. Second, they wanted to be able to build up a set of data that they could use to study patterns in UK household energy use.

'There is very limited energy data available to study household energy use. The last dataset, the 1996 English Housing Condition Survey, is now more than 10 years old and no longer relevant,’ said Catherine Bottrill, ECI imeasure researcher and imeasure co-inventor.

'We have carried out trials of imeasure over a year with 100 people, but now want to open it up to many more people to get a much stronger understanding of the patterns in household energy use,' said co-inventor Dr Russell Layberry.

On the imeasure website, people can also compare their energy usage with those of others and get a ‘carbon label’.  An ‘A’ grade means that your household is on target for meeting the UK government’s aim of a 60 per cent carbon emission reduction, whereas a ‘G’ grade means that you are three times higher than the average.

To encourage friendly competition, imeasure allows individuals to come together in their own 'carbon clubs', providing a leader board so that people can compete for the top spot in their group.

'A bit of playful competition can deliver valuable information for people, information that can lead to them saving hundreds of pounds,’ added Dr Layberry.