Teen energy consumption

Computer scientists at Birmingham University have won funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to work on a study into teenage energy consumption.

Dr Russell Beale and research colleagues from Birmingham’s School of Computer Sciences have won £327,000 of funding, of which £261,875 comes from the EPSRC, to carry out the research under the ’Transforming Energy Demand through Digital Innovation (TEDDI)’ scheme.

The Birmingham team will be working in collaboration with partners from the universities of Swansea, Central Lancashire and Nottingham, plus the Institute of Education, to assess teens’ attitudes to using domestic energy, measure how much they use daily and find novel ways to encourage them to make savings.

The partners in the study, led by UCLan, share a total TEDDI grant of £1.5m.

Teenagers will be encouraged to take part in the research via an energy-awareness competition being run in some UK secondary schools. It is hoped to track their energy consumption while making them aware of how often they, for example, switch on the kettle or TV, use their hairdryer, leave a light on or open the fridge door.

Using web-based, mobile-phone and wireless technology, the project aims to develop two digital products – one for younger teens and one to interest older teenagers – which will help to change behaviour towards energy use.

The technology could also lead to the development of games that would encourage the competitive aspects of social peer pressure and individual aspirations while carrying an important educational message.