Leeds University is launching a year-long study into how it might reduce its £11m-a-year energy bill.

Students ready to reduce energy consumption
Students ready to reduce energy consumption

From October two student accommodation blocks will be pitted against each other to test the effect of monitoring electricity consumption. One block will be used as a control sample while each flat in the other block will be fitted with an OWL wireless electricity monitor.

For the first time, Leeds students – who currently pay their bills as part of a flat rental rate – will be able to see how habits like leaving electrical devices on standby rather than turning them off at the plug use unnecessary power, hit their pockets and impact on their carbon footprint.

OWL provides up to the second information on the exact amount of electricity you are using in pounds and pence and in kilo watts. The immediate impact on the carbon footprint by turning off a light or turning down the thermostat can be seen on the OWL monitor and the information can then be recorded instantly and cumulatively, helping to manage your energy saving strategy.

In domestic households, the OWLS have already proven a great success, reducing annual bills by just over a quarter and saving customers hundreds of pounds a year.

The outcome of the study will be monitored by undergraduate Emily Bradley, who recently won a Sustainable Development placement supported by OWL. She will work in the University’s Sustainable Development team to monitor electricity usage, assess the benefits of installing the meters and identify plans for future development.

The project will provide information to the NUSSL national programme on reducing carbon emissions from student residences. If successful it will be rolled out across Leeds University as a whole and will provide a blueprint for universities and institutions across the UK and internationally on how to reduce their carbon footprint.

Commenting on the initiative, Leeds University Deputy Vice-Chancellor John Fisher said;

The project is an exciting part of our Carbon Management Plan. If successful, we hope to be able to roll out the use of OWL electricity monitors to our entire student population, empowering them with the tools to monitor and ultimately reduce their electricity consumption.

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