Even as the country, and the state in particular, is facing a huge energy crisis, a survey among Bangaloreans has revealed that a majority of them are blissfully ignorant about the enormity of the problem at hand and are making minimal efforts to keep a tab on their power consumption. In a survey where the household income of most of those surveyed was between 20-40 Thousand Rupees per month, only 50% of the respondents considered the ever increasing electricity bills to be a good enough reason for trying to conserve electricity! But, a huge 82% (of those who feel that there is not enough power going around) would not pay a penny extra for power even if unlimited supply of electricity was guaranteed! This and many other such key findings were a part of the third in the series of surveys titled ‘BCIL ECO-PULSE’, conducted by BCIL (Biodiversity Conservation [India] Limited), a pioneer in eco-friendly homes, built with energy-efficient alternate technologies.
Looking closely at power usage pattern in homes, the survey reveals that almost 45% of the households have their television sets switched on for most of the day even when no one is watching. Equally alarmingly, more than 50% of respondents do not put off the main switch when the appliance is not in use; they just use the remote, thus resulting in 30% energy use on stand-by power in such homes. And to put the above in perspective, the survey revealed that people consider usage of Television to be second only to lighting in the list of important uses of electricity.
Fifty per cent of those surveyed admitted to not filling the washing machine up to capacity while washing (resulting in wastage of electricity) and 70% admitted to keeping geysers (major power guzzlers) on for 1-2 hours every day, with many of them saying that the geysers are kept switched on till all at home have had their bath irrespective of the time duration. Among users of electric stove and microwave ovens, a small percentage actually uses it for more than 50% of their cooking. And more than 30% of them feel that electric cooking is cheaper than using LPG! Clearly fooled by the frequent price hike of LPG cylinders in the recent past!
When asked if enough power was being made available to them, 40% of the respondents said ‘NO’ and 60% said ‘Yes’. Among the ones who said, NO, 40% blamed the Government and an equal 40 said that ‘there was not enough power available’, perhaps reflecting the growing acceptance of our ‘powerless’ situation! Interestingly, 15% feel that they do not get enough power because there are others who are getting more than they require. Early indication of the possibility of a class division forming based on relative access to, and availability of power. But even among those who felt that not enough power was available, an overwhelming 82% are willing to pay only whatever they are paying today as unit charges even if unlimited power was made available.
Commenting on the survey findings, Mr. Chandrashekar Hariharan, CEO, BCIL, said, “The results are surprising, not just for the usage patterns that have been found out but even more for the clear lack of commitment to power conservation and the limited awareness surrounding power-related issues. All of us who use power for lighting, cooling, heating, television, cooking, ironing etc have a responsibility to ensure that we are conscious of such usage, and that there is as little wastage of power, willfully or otherwise. On the other hand, city planners and infrastructure developers need to urgently look at alternate sources of power. There is also an urgent need to encourage residential communities to grow their own power so that they will not only have more power but also be more responsible users of power.”
While the study of power usage patterns strongly indicated a city that is by and large indifferent to the power situation, the respondents themselves believed otherwise! More than 95% of Bangaloreans claim that they always / mostly ensure that they spend ‘as little electricity as possible’. 85% of those surveyed also maintained that they ‘switch off lights and fans’ whenever they leave a room. And when quizzed about why it was important to save power, the predictable response of saving on electricity bill was given by only about 50% of the population. More than 25% cited environmental concerns as their reason to save power and another 10% felt that they should save power so that others get their share of power, too.
Mr. Hariharan said, “I would like to look at this positively. Even if the survey actually indicates that most of those spouting noble sentiments are not doing much about power conservation (while more than 95% do not switch of TV when no one is watching, 95% is also the percentage who claim that they try to use as little power as possible), it is still encouraging that they want to be seen saying the right things. To even have some of the population mentioning environment conservation as a reason for saving electricity is heartening. If we all can follow up this talk with some action, there is still a lot to hope for.
While the study, by and large threw up results that were depressing, there were some encouraging signs also, however limited. More than 75% of the population used energy saving CFL lights for home lighting with 25% actually claiming to use only CFL lights (instead of the energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs) in their homes. And when asked what they would do if streetlights were found switched on during day time, an encouraging 60% said that they would inform the BESCOM or the Corporation and try and get it switched off, if they knew who to call. It is another matter that about 40% admitted that they would do nothing about it, with more than 10% actually making the accusation that they will not do anything because ‘it is a regular affair’. Surely, it is going to be a long while before civic action and institutional response will come together for a more powerful Bengaluru, the Survey findings indicate.
The survey, aimed at understanding power consumption patterns and the attitude towards power conservation among Bangaloreans was conducted with 403 respondents in the age group of 21 to 50 years (all of whose monthly household income is Rs. 20,000 and above) from various zones in Bangalore. This Survey comes in the backdrop of perennial power crisis in Bangalore (and Karnataka as a whole) with power outages having become a permanent phenomenon and the overall power situation a matter of grave concern for the denizens of the city.
This is the third in the series of quarterly surveys that is being conducted by BCIL to reveal insights / alarming facts about Bangaloreans and their usage of critical resources. The forthcoming surveys in the ‘BCIL ECO-PULSE’ series (ecobcil.com) will focus on Waste Management, Air Quality, etc., all of which, are causes that BCIL is crusading for, by building homes that are Water and Energy Positive, while being sensitive to most conservation-related parameters.