Rebecca Adlington is encouraging people in Britain to do more to reduce energy waste after research found that £650m of “invisible” energy waste could be saved by upgrading Britain’s outdated energy system.
A poll of 4,000 adults found that almost one-quarter did not know the points at which energy gets wasted in the energy system, and four in 10 thought being energy efficient is only about the individual steps people take in their homes.
However, a smarter energy system, enabled by smart meters, would allow for suppliers to better plan the distribution of energy across the nation, as well as making it easier to pinpoint where faults are occurring.
The research, commissioned by Smart Energy GB, also found that nearly half of British adults admitted they could “do more” to reduce their own waste, including energy, packaging and food.
But one in 10 didn’t know what difference it would make to cut back on the amount of plastic, food and energy they use, with one-third saying it can be an inconvenience to reduce their waste.
Double Olympic gold-medallist Rebecca Adlington, who is fronting the campaign, said: “When it comes to reducing waste at home, we are all trying to do more.
“We recycle, drink from reusable cups and eat wonky carrots.
“We all know that we need to save energy too, but because energy waste is invisible, it’s tricky to know how we can reduce it.
“Having spent most of my career trying to conserve my own energy, I recently turned my attention to the kind that powers our homes, because I knew it was the missing piece in my attempts to live a more eco-friendly life.
“We can help stop some of this pointless national energy waste by making our energy system smarter.
“It’s a bit like when we made the change from analogue to digital TV and all benefited from a smarter entertainment schedule — if our energy system was digital it could help us better plan the energy we need nationally, and when and where; help us use more renewable energy sources, and pinpoint where faults are happening more quickly.
“By getting a smart meter we can all help upgrade our outdated energy system, which will contribute to saving an estimated £650m of this ‘invisible’ energy waste.
“I’ve had my smart meter for several years now and it’s been a huge help in enabling me to reduce the energy use in my house.
“What I didn’t realise is that just by getting it installed, I was also helping to update our energy system to one that is more efficient and less wasteful.”
The study also found that 63 per cent of those polled said the responsibility for reducing waste in society lies with everyone.
As many as six in 10 said they would be more careful about how much they waste if there was less effort involved.
It was also found that plastic is the number one concern for the nation when it comes to reducing waste, with just 36 per cent recognising the importance of watching their energy consumption.
The research, conducted via OnePoll, found that one-fifth admitted that a change to their own behaviour is in order if they want to reduce their waste, while one in 10 didn’t think their individual efforts would have an effect.
More than one-third agreed that they, as an individual, hold the biggest responsibility for reducing waste in society.
More than three-quarters of respondents said they were “doing their bit” at home to waste less energy.
Reducing the temperature of the washing machine, turning the heating down and getting a smart meter installed are among the ways people said they were trying to reduce their energy consumption.
When influencing people to make a difference and reduce waste, TV and radio programmes are having a big impact as well as social media.
More than one in 10 also said their children were having a big impact on the choices they make.
Robert Cheesewright, director of corporate affairs at Smart Energy GB, said: “Energy system wastage is largely invisible, and if we can’t see something then we understandably don’t think about it.
“This waste happens throughout the energy system; from where it’s generated, moving through the network to our homes, and then within our homes too.
“The good news is that there is something we can all do to help — by getting a smart meter we can make the move to a smarter energy system that is less wasteful, saving our country millions of pounds.
“Smart meters also help make energy waste visible in the home, enabling people to be more mindful of their energy use.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies