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Energy literacy warning as only 7 per cent of young people understand bills

Energy literacy warning as only 7 per cent of young people understand billsFriday, 19 June, 2015

Young bill payers claim they do not fully understand their energy bill or the terms that describe how much energy they use, according to an Energy Saving Trust public opinion tracker UK:Pulse.

Only seven per cent of under-35s say they fully understand their bill, with nearly 40 per cent unable to identify that electricity is measured in Kilowatt hours. By contrast, 18 per cent of over-55s say they fully understand their energy bill, while almost one in six older people (16 per cent) don’t know how energy is measured. Wind energy, one of the most iconic renewable energy sources, barely registered among the under-35s, a third of whom could not identify it as a renewable energy source, compared to just 15 per cent of those aged 55 or more. The results come as the Energy Saving Trust publishes its list of 10 ‘quick wins’ to help people save money in the home – and a digital quiz to put their knowledge to the test.

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, says:

“Understanding your bill and how energy is used is vital to reducing overall domestic consumption. We have found a consistent difference in understanding of energy issues between age groups, one that is stronger than when we looked at this by gender or social background. We now have a generation of householders who don’t understand their bills and have little idea where energy comes from. One reason for this is that many young people rent and do not own their home, they are simply not invested in energy efficiency like their older relatives. We are calling on one generation to impart their knowledge to another so young people can learn to save energy and not worry so much about their bills.”

In total, 82 per cent of consumers said they were interested in saving energy even if it requires a change in daily routine, but in reality young people aren’t taking basic steps to save energy – older people are 20 per cent more likely than younger people to use only as much water as they need to make a cup of tea. The survey also showed that under-35s are twice as likely to own or be interested in owning smart heating controls to save money on heating, but nearly a third (30 per cent) of interested young people said they’d like to have one because it would be ‘fun to try’.

In response to this finding, Philip commented: “While devices like smart heating controls are great tools for helping people reduce their energy use, there is no substitute for understanding how your activity in the home affects your bills and your lifestyle.”

Dr Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London, commented:

"These findings reflect on the incredible untapped potential of young people engaging with energy literacy. It's also a chance for older people to act as catalysts for the next generation and pass on their experience and knowledge to potentially make a really substantive impact on society in the longer term."

Media contact:

Lindsey Taylor at the Energy Saving Trust at Lindsey.Taylor@est.org.uk