Student Switch-off Scheme

Sir: A resident hall of a typical university in UK consumes 25 percent electricity annually. The universities have launched a Student Switch-off Scheme to reduce this consumption pattern and save energy.

The scheme has been launched as an energy-saving competition between halls of residence. The halls within the college compete against each other to reduce their respective energy usage from the baseline year. Energy consumption of halls is monitored throughout the academic year and prizes are given out to the winner, i.e the hall that consumes less energy.

During the last academic year, 2012-13, the Student Switch-off Scheme at Cambridge University resulted in a six percent reduction in electricity usage on average across all the participating halls of residence — keeping over 1,500 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide out of the atmosphere. For the same period, the scheme resulted in a 3.8 percent and 1.1 percent reduction in the annual energy bills of Queen Mary University of London and University of Southampton respectively.

A similar type of scheme could be introduced in the residence halls of universities in Pakistan. However, one of the major challenges that must be addressed before launching such a scheme is the absence of a monitoring system to vouch for the energy consumption pattern. The majority of our universities have conventional electricity meters that are unable to transmit data and are therefore not suitable for energy consumption monitoring purposes. This problem could be overcome by installing smart electricity meters that not only record the energy consumption during small intervals (e.g. every half hour) but are also capable of transmitting data through the internet directly to computers.

Introducing a similar scheme will not only result in reduction in energy consumption but will certainly raise awareness of the students regarding conserving energy.

Dr Khuram Pervez