So How Much Energy Do Your Children Use?

Article excerpt

Byline: Robin Turner

IT'S the age-old question for any parent accustomed to finding their children holed up in their bedrooms surrounded by iPods, PlayStations, hair straighteners and televisions - how much is this adding to my energy bill? Now an answer is at hand - after an academic was given more than a quarter of a million pounds to study the energy consumption of teenagers.

Professor Matt Jones from Swansea University has been given the grant to find out what long-suffering parents have always wanted to know.

He will use pounds 254,587 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to discover the exact amount of teen energy consumption in the home.

The plan to get behind the bedroom door of today's teenager will be the first energy efficiency scheme to engage directly with teenagers. To make sure they co-operate with the project, they will be involved as "co-investigators" and encouraged to report their findings using social networking sites such as Facebook. Cutting-edge technology to log the energy the teenagers' gadgets use will be uploaded using mobile phone and wireless sensors.

Prof Jones said: "Teenagers sometimes get a bad press but in fact many of them are passionate and caring about the world they are going to inherit from us.

"This project will harness and nurture their curiosity to help them change their world while at the same time making scientific breakthroughs in respect of mobile and home device interactive technology. The project is unique as it will educate, inform and empower teenagers through their active involvement as design informants, evaluators and researchers."

Kirsten Gram-Hanssen, a senior researcher at the Danish Building Research Institute investigated teenage energy use in 2005.

Her Danish information database coming from 50,000 households found that a teenager in a modern household had a 20% higher electricity consumption than that of an average adult. Ms Gram-Hanssen said: "Some of them told how they had everything on whenever they were home and added that they could use a mobile phone, television and computer all at the same time."

She added that teenagers came under considerable pressure to have electrical goods. …