Switch it off and see what happens…

Here at Charlecote we are very concerned about our electricity bills. With costs rising we’re seeing an increasing amount of money being spent on energy. This is money which could be used for important conservation work and community projects at Charlecote.

Every National Trust place records meter readings each month and these are added to huge spreadsheets which track consumption. As an organisation, we are pledging to reduce our use of fossil fuels by 50% in the next 10 years and we aim to reduce energy usage by 20% by 2020 (compared with our usage in 2009). This is quite a task and knowing what energy we are using, where and why is a big part of the process.

(Find out more about the National Trust, Energy & Climate Change here)

energy outreach NTPL David levenson

Switch it off
A few weeks ago, we decided we’d have a ‘switch it off’ hour where we all had a good look around our working areas and turned off all our non-essential electrical items. But what is non-essential? Everything is essential at some point of the day,  otherwise we wouldn’t have it. Well, in this sense we classed it as all those things that should be switched off at night.

So between 8am – 9am we all resisted the urge to turn on lights and log on computers and just enjoyed the peace. Some of our teams took the opportunity to have a catch up and discuss work plans for the coming months, others got on with paper work, tidying desks or filing. It was an interesting exercise just figuring out what you could get done without any need for electricity! You can get on with a surprising amount when you put your mind to it.

Of course some jobs are more reliant on energy use and that is why we picked a time that would (hopefully) cause the least disruption and also allow us to get the site ready for opening to visitors at 10.30am.

What happened?
It worked! By promoting the ‘switch it off’ (SIO) hour to staff, there was a conscious effort to check our workstations at the end of the day in readiness for the S.I.O hour.

The graph below shows our usage on Tuesday (‘normal’ day) and Wednesday (SIO morning).

This has helped us get a better understanding of what our night time usage should be with only essential energy users such as freezers, etc. (also bearing in mind that we do have a holiday flat, donor family accommodation and staff accommodation on site so this will fluctuate).

2013.08_Energy Shut down results

We’ll probably carry out the same exercise again at different times of the year to see seasonal variation.

It certainly hasn’t ‘saved us’ money on our bills yet, but it is helping us to better plan what we can do to minimise energy use. Perhaps another benefit of the exercise has been getting the staff teams involved and being able to see an impact our behaviour has on our energy use.

We’re also taking part in the Greening Museums project with some of our neighbouring heritage venues in a bid to keep us on track and share best practice. You can find out more about this project on their blog site here.

Ruth, Green Champion



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