The Smart Meter Challenge – how to get the children to save energy

We had our smart meter for our energy consumption fitted in Sept 2017. I had been most excited to get the smart meter as finally I felt like we would have control over what we were spending every day on our gas and electricity.

At any point in time we can see how much we have spent so far in a month, how much in a day or even how much energy we are using at a moment in time.

But I needed to install a change into the children, an understanding of what uses energy and what energy costs. They are the worst culprits at leaving the lights on, leaving on their games consoles. Taking fifteen-minute showers or leaving every TV on in the house.

I came up with a game, a competition pitting me against the boys to see who could spent the least amount of energy in a week. We spent three weeks in October competing against each other, we chose three weeks that were as consistent as possible, i.e. we hadn’t yet switched on our heating.

Mrs Mummypenny week 1

I went first and took the first week. I spent most of the week running around switching off lights and shouting for the boys to switch off the lights! If you say something enough times it has to go in to their brain, right?

I made small changes to things. The kettle was only boiled with one cup worth of coffee in there. I would use the oven then switch it off straight away (I was leaving it on before!). I was only using the tumble dryer for the minimum 25 minutes, and hoping that was doing the job drying the clothes rather than leaving it rumble on for 45 minutes unnecessarily.

All appliances were being switched off at the wall, including the coffee machine, toaster and microwave. I thought I was doing well. By the end of the week I had spent £18.84.

So you can compare maybe to your spend, we live in a four-bedroom semi-detached house. There are five of us in the house with everyone at work or school except me who works from home. We have just switched to the best offer on the market with Octopus energy. The weekly amount quoted just needs VAT to be added on. Our monthly direct debit is £95. This feels about right and give me comfort that we are spending what we are paying in our debit.

Week 2 it was Dylan’s turn.

We had a few debates about the fact that Josh could be sabotaging Dylan’s week by leaving the light on. Josh is the middle child and Dylan is the eldest so they often dig at each other and are very competitive.

I managed to convince Josh that sabotage was not the answer, particularly as it would cost us money😉 and we all promised to play the game fairly.

Dylan made a real effort to switch off his TV and Xbox and was good at switching off all the lights every morning before leaving the house for school.

At the end of Dylan’s week his spending totalled £18.21. We had managed to shave off a small amount. He was a bit gutted to not save more money to be honest.

Week 3 was Josh’s turn

Week 3 also happened to be half term which you would think would mean we would be spending more money as we would be at home more. Or maybe by week 3 we had gotten so good at saving energy that we could spend a lot less.
We did have a few days out, but we also had two days where we were at the house most of the day. Turns out we had learnt well and Josh week was a price-busting week. We managed to spend just £15.41!

Josh was the winner and his prize was winning the cash equivalent of what his week cost versus mine so he pocketed a whole £3.43!

The heating goes on

As we came to the end of October we could not face the cold anymore and the heating had to go on. We are now spending around £20 per week, which feels about right. The marvellous thing being that we can keep a constant check on it. And can make an educated decision to put the heating on for an hour or to just fill up the hot water bottle and wrap up in a blanket!

It feels so good to be in control of a bill that has been estimated and guessed as long as I remember.

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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