Thursday 29 December 2011

British Gas Smart Meter campaign - teaching children how to save energy around the home

BritMums and British Gas have partnered up on a campaign to help educate people about energy conservation and have asked us here at The Madhouse to get involved. The theme was teaching the kids about saving energy around the home so I asked the Madhouse mini-testers if they had any ideas on how we could be kinder to the planet and cut down on our energy bills at the same time. I was actually quite impressed with some of the things they came up with.

1) First up was the age-old advice of turning off the lights when you go out of a room. But Juliette also said it would be a good idea to be extra brave and stop using a night light all night long. Sophie said we should also replace battery or mains powered torches and night lights with wind-up torches.

2) Sophie suggested wearing thick, long-sleeved pyjamas rather than skimpy nightdresses and adding an extra blanket to the bed rather than turning up the heating. Juliette said that if you got cold, you should run around the room or do lots of sporty dancing to warm yourself up, rather than turning on the heating !

3) Sophie had a great idea, saying that we should play board games more often instead of turning on the Wii or the Nintendo DS because you don't need any electricity for those, only brain power ! I think she's been reading my blogpost about the Slow Toys movement here.

4) I came up with the idea of trying to put less clothes in the laundry so that we could use the washing machine and tumble drier less frequently. Obviously, I don't mind washing dirty clothes but Juliette in particular has a tendency to pull out two or three Tshirts in the morning until she finds the one that she wants, then throws the unworn clean ones in the wash when asked up to tidy up her room. Not only a waste of electricity but also my time and energy !

5) The next suggestion from Sophie made me laugh - go and visit relatives more often or spend more time at their friends' houses, then we use their energy and not ours !! Cheeky but true !

6) The next idea they came up with was to make sure Pierre turns off his electronic toys completely, rather than leaving them to go on to standby, because it wears out the batteries more quickly. I explained that you can also buy rechargeable batteries, which the girls had never heard of.

7) Sophie said we should make Daddy walk them to the childminder's at the end of the road, rather than take the car when it's his turn, because it's not far at all. In his defence, he does head straight off to work afterwards !

8) She also said we should eat lots of salads, sandwiches and cold foods that don't need to use the oven or microwave ! Not sure how popular this would be during the winter months if I refused to cook hot food in the name of saving energy but I did say we could try to maximise oven space, cooking baked potatoes and a fruit pie at the same time as a roast dinner or casserole. Making double quantities for dinner so that the other half can be quickly reheated in the microwave rather than being totally cooked from scratch is a time-saver, as well as energy-saver, too, so well worth thinking about.

9) I suggested that when the girls go outside to play, they shouldn't keep coming in and out of the house because it lets all the warmth out.

10) The final idea is one that none of us here at The Madhouse would have thought about before writing this blogpost, because it's something that none of us - not even the grown-ups - knew much about at all : Smart Meters. British Gas have already begun to install these in homes and businesses to replace current meters and the UK government, along with others around the world, has set a target for all UK homes to have a smart meter installed by 2019. The accuracy of smart meters allows energy suppliers to forecast energy use throughout the day, across the country, so that they can become more efficient in how they generate the nation's power, producing cleaner, greener electricity. They also allow you to see exactly how much energy you use for each action you take around the house. I remember the first time we got a front-loader washing machine and me and my dad sat in front of it for half an hour watching our socks going round, totally fascinated. (I'm showing my age now !) I can see this being the same with geeks and the energy-conscious (if you're green and a geek, does that make you greek ?!) running around constantly switching things off to see how much the energy consumption goes down, especially as it gives you the monetary equivalent in real time too ! If you're intrigued, you can find out more on the British Gas website at or, even easier, watch the video below :

*** This is a sponsored but nevertheless 100% honest post ! ***

I'm participating in the British Gas Smart Meter campaign. Smart meters work with an in-home display to show how much energy you're using in pounds and pence. You can see how much you're spending by leaving your phone charger plugged in all the time, or the heating on at night. And when you can really see how much you're using, you can start to make small changes to become more efficient. Smart Meters automatically send British Gas readings so they represent the end of estimated bills! British Gas is committed to install 1.5 million smart meters by the end of 2012. (see here for more details : ).

Other blogposts you may be interested in :


  1. 'Being extra brave and going without a night light...' Bless! And eating lots of cold foods that don;t require the use of a heat source is so clever! I never even thought of that. So people who follow a raw food diet are also great environmentalists I guess!

    Great post, some really really clever ideas here!! And now I have a great reason to tell my family why they should eat more salads... ;)

  2. My two boys are a bit young to understand about electricity, I have tried to explain to my eldest but you can see it goes in one ear and out the other, great ideas though!

  3. was laughing at the comment on watching the washing machine going round. My girls were 3 and 4 before I got a washing machine -( think of the money I save and I remember the first night we put it on - hubby and I brought 2 chairs through to the kitchen and sat and watched it - well we only had a black and white tv back in the days of 4 channels, with the forth one being fairly new and part time

  4. Efficient utility monitoring through a diaphragm gas meter. How has your experience been with their data accuracy?


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