How they saved: The winners of the Energy Limbo contest said they were able to reduce their BELCO use through three simple steps: 1) They turned off lights and appliances when not in use; 2) They unplugged their hot water heater when they did not need it; 3) switched to energy efficient bulbs in the main room they used and then replaced others as they burned out. *Photo by MCT
How they saved: The winners of the Energy Limbo contest said they were able to reduce their BELCO use through three simple steps: 1) They turned off lights and appliances when not in use; 2) They unplugged their hot water heater when they did not need it; 3) switched to energy efficient bulbs in the main room they used and then replaced others as they burned out. *Photo by MCT
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FRIDAY, NOV. 16: Residents could cut Bermuda’s oil dependence by over 100,000 barrels a year by just being more conscientious about their energy use.

On Wednesday night the awards ceremony was held at the Cathedral Hall for the Energy Limbo: How Low You Can Go contest.

Jeane Nikolai, director of Energy for Government, said the average participant in the contest reduced their energy consumption by 11 per cent

She said the average two-person household in Bermuda uses about 700kw per month, which roughly translates into a barrel of oil.

“BELCO imports about a million barrels of oil per year. For argument’s sake, if the price of oil is about 100 bucks per barrel. How much money is that going off the island? That’s $100 million a year we burn in using and producing electricity.”

Participants in the contest were given The Energy Detective, supplied by Bermuda Engineering Company, to help give them real time use of how much electricity they were using and how much it was costing them.

Ms Nikolai said: “The real time monitors are probably the best tool you can use to reduce your energy consumption. It’s a little like telling someone to lose weight, but you’re only allowed to check in with your doctor once a month, you’re not allowed to have any information about the calorie content about the food you’re eating, you’re not allowed to have a bathroom scale.

“That’s what saving energy is like if you don’t have that real time information.”

Edwin and Shirley Ann Smith were the over winners of the Energy Limbo, reducing their energy consumption by 38 per cent over a 10-month period. The Ming family and the Thompson family were a close second and third with 38 and 37 per cent reductions.

Shirley Ann said they decided to enter the contest because they are already environmentally conscious.

“It was a good way to participate in something of that nature.

“Of course, saving money is always an incentive to do something.”

Edwin chimed in: “And we’re competitive.”

He said the secret to their success was simple.

“Bermudians know better, but we always don’t do better. All we did was what our parents and grandparents told us — ‘You leave a room, your turn the light off’.

“We found with the metre that came with the programme, which devices were using the most energy. In our case it was the hot water heater so we learned to  turn it off. We used to leave it on all the time. Just turning off your water heater saves a lot of money.

“We would turn it on an hour before we needed it and afterwards we would unplug it. That was a big deal as far as savings.”

He added they only changed over to the energy-efficient light bulbs in one room.

“As the other bulbs burned out we will change them but we changed the bulbs immediately as we began the programme in the living room.

“Essentially, turn off what you’re not using.

Shirley Ann Ann said as the contest wore on and they were near the top, they became more determined to be conscientious about their electricity use.

“I am competitive so I was determined to be in the top three.”

Marc Bean, Minister of Environment, Planning & Infrastructure Strategy, hailed the contest a success and said all of Bermuda should aspire to be more energy conscious.

“Our winner made a substantial savings and it came about as a result of a change in behaviour. That’s what our department has been encouraging.

“Energy conservation is the best and simplest way forward we can have a sustainable future. All other options are more long-term in scope, but this speaks to individual choice and decision-making.”

Mr Bean also participated in the contest but in a rare bit of candour for a politician admitted he could have done better.

“I didn’t save much. While I’m not a techie, I still have to have technology to be able to carry out my functions…I need that technology on 24/7 and I must admit I love my AC on during the summer. As a minister I can improve my conversation efforts too and its something I’ve been encouraging my family to do likewise.”