Over the past few decades, residential electricity consumption has increased due to ever-expanding electricity coverage in both urban and rural areas. This is augmented by growth in income levels which has enabled citizens to purchase energy-intensive electrical appliances such as TV, air conditioner, etc. This has resulted in higher electricity consumption at the residential level. On the other hand, the price of electricity is also being enhanced leading to an increase in household budgets. Given this context, there is a need to encourage awareness on energy conservation and efficiency among residential electricity consumers.

CAG, in collaboration with Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE), Bangalore, has launched a program Minsarathai Semippom in Chennai to engage citizens and encourage them to conserve energy and look at energy-efficient options. This programme seeks to save energy through behavioural changes such as following basic energy efficiency practices and conservation measures. Further, the benefits of using rooftop solar system and other renewable energy sources will also be promoted. This program is also being piloted in Bangalore under the name of Vidyut Rakshaka by TIDE in Bangalore. It has been noted that this initiative in Bangalore has helped participants save electricity in the range of 5-10% per month and its equivalent costs.

The aim of this program is to survey around 700 households in Chennai. It will track their electricity consumption patterns and study its impact using behavioural change and energy efficient equipments. The steps are as follows: a) residents are invited to sign up, b) a detailed online questionnaire which has questions such as the total number of lighting devices, total number of ACs along with their capacities and star rating, etc.

The residents are also asked to give their Electricity Board Service Number (EB No) to understand their historical consumption pattern. Participants will be given an awareness booklet which gives detailed energy conservation and efficiency tips. Based on the above details collected, customized recommendations are given to each participant to reduce consumption. These reports are sent out to participants periodically to keep them updated and promote behavioural change.

A unique feature of the program is the involvement of students from technical institutes. They are known as stewards. These stewards will be involved in sign-up sessions, undertake surveys and champion the cause of energy efficiency and conservation in their area of operation. Stewards will also visit different resident welfare associations and promote awareness on the benefits of Minsarathai Semippom initiative.

For the Chennai chapter of the project, the programme has tied up with Don Bosco Technical Institute (JoeTech), Basin Bridge. The students have been trained on handling the surveys and have undertaken mock surveys. Resident welfare association members and apartment secretaries have also been approached for participating in the initiative.

The entire initiative will be paperless wherein the questionnaires will be administered online by the stewards with a push towards paperless reporting.

Residents willing to participate in the programme may contact CAG at balaji.krishnagopalan@cag.org.in