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From smart meters to smartphones — young people need engagement to save on energy

Are you one of the under 35s that doesn’t understand their energy bill? QR codes may help!

Whether in full-time education, starting a career, or saving to settle down, the financial strains on young people means that every penny counts — yet it seems that taking control of their energy bills to free up extra cash is not often a priority.

Young people don’t understand their bills

Research by the Energy Savings Trust has revealed how disengaged and undereducated young people are when it comes to their energy bills: only an astonishing 7% of young people (under 35) fully understand their energy bill according to a survey of over 2,000 consumers. Notably, 40% were even unaware that electricity is measured in kilowatt hours.

82% of those surveyed declared an interest in saving energy, and subsequent money, yet the reality is completely different as the lack of understanding around bills hinders them from successfully doing so.

The results also showed that under 35s are twice as likely to own smart heating controls, showing an increased interest in energy when there’s a connection to technology — something archaic energy bills are trying to tackle through the mandatory introduction of QR codes.

Getting to the root of the problem

With many young people being renters, it’s difficult for them to go to the same lengths as homeowners in ensuring their house isn’t leaking money. Energy efficiency tactics such as insulation and using greener appliances are often beyond the capabilities of a tenant — the range of opportunities to save money on energy long-term are limited.

Having limited control over how your home uses energy is a recipe for becoming disengaged with your bills and feeling helpless to have an impact on your spending.

Renters can of course, switch their energy tariff; many young people who rent are possibly not even aware that they are able to shop around and switch their energy bills, saving hundreds of pounds a year.

Could technology help?

uSwitch iPhone app

Bringing technology to energy bills could help young people take more control over their spending and understanding of energy. Focussing bills around technology opens the opportunity to make them fit-in with the busy device-dependent lives of young people:

The roll-out of smart meters provides the opportunity to see exactly what is being spent, directly illustrating the connection between turning off appliances and saving money with connected devices and monitors.

The introduction of QR codes to bills is another scheme that offers the unique opportunity to decode your energy bill by scanning a code contained on the bill. uSwitch’s iPhone app, for example, will make use of this information to show precise comparison results for the exact requirements of a home, and what can be potentially saved by switching plans / suppliers.

With a connected account to the app there is constant access to bill information from your device — much less hassle than relying constantly on paper bills and having to manually enter energy details. uSwitch is also able to notify account holders when their plan is ending or there’s a cheaper deal available.

These types of advances in the energy billing system could make gas and electricity more accessible and transparent to younger people.