The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Developing positive energy habits

28 September 2017

Smart Energy GB, the voice of the smart meter rollout, has published the results of SMART Squad, a project which tested a range of school resources designed to bring about energy saving behaviour change in the home.  
The three-month project was carried out by the specialist education consultancy, EdComs, in 12 schools across Wales with the aim of helping teachers to engage pupils with smart meters and energy use in primary and secondary schools.

EdComs found that SMART Squad made a real and sustained difference to primary school pupils’ knowledge of energy efficiency, bringing them closer to the level of understanding that secondary school pupils already have and leading to a direct change in their energy conservation awareness. But, more than that, the findings showed that when the energy saving message was taken from the classroom and into the home, it had a positive effect on energy behaviour within the whole family.

Participating teachers reported that the resources, including worksheets, challenges and diaries, engaged pupils and were a good fit with the curriculum. Primary school teachers used them within science, geography, PSE and global citizenship lessons and said that they provided a good opportunity to develop numeracy and literacy skills and encouraged group work and class discussion.
Secondary teachers all used the resources under the science framework, with some stating that they valued the opportunity to use ‘real-life’ examples for maths, and others commenting that the resources engaged pupils because they were fun and relevant to their everyday lives.
A significant finding from the evaluation was that the project really did change behaviours, not only among children but their parents too.  Immediately after the project, 61% of primary school pupils said that they or their family now turned the lights off every time they left the room, an increase of 13 percentage points over the rate reported before participating in the pilot. Additionally, more than half of pupils (52 per cent) reported conversations about SMART Squad at home immediately after participating in the pilot project, and this was sustained six weeks after the project, with 49 per cent reporting that they had spoken to their parents about SMART Squad ‘in the last few weeks’.

The project also raised awareness of energy saving behaviours among pupils: 86% of primary pupils correctly identified hanging clothes to dry rather than using the tumble dryer as energy efficient behavior 6 weeks after participating in the Smart Squad pilot, compared to 62% of the control group. Additionally, more than half of participating pupils (54% primary, 57% secondary) said they learnt how to identify good energy habits from the Smart Squad pilot project.

Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Smart Energy GB, said: “The enthusiastic response from primary school pupils shows that young children can be a real catalyst for change when it comes to energy efficiency. During the test of our SMART Squad resources, they took their new knowledge home and encouraged their families to do their bit for the planet, leading to a pronounced shift in energy behaviours and awareness.
“The rollout of smart meters is engaging consumers with the way they use gas and electricity, empowering families to take control of their energy through positive behaviour change. As the national rollout continues, we hope to work with others in the energy industry and beyond to explore more ways that behavioural science can help Britain to reduce its carbon footprint.”
Smart meters - available to every household in Great Britain at no extra cost and installed by energy suppliers - offer accurate billing, near real time information on energy use in pounds and pence, and greater control over the way we buy and use energy.