Annaclone group cuts costs in energy drive

Monday, February 13, 2012

Article from reproduced courtesy of the Banbridge Leader. By Aine Fox (


As soon as you realise that boiling the kettle for one hour each day could end up costing you more than ten pounds a month, it’s safe to say you might take the notion of energy-saving a little more seriously.

The residents of Annaclone have spent the last few months switching off lights, having quicker showers - and even preparing special lights for their village Christmas tree to do just that.

The energy-saving drive began in early summer when Power NI (formerly NIE Energy) granted the local community group - one of only six to be chosen from across Northern Ireland - £7,500 worth of funding to help with plans to cut energy costs through loft insulation, boiler servicing and and the use of energy monitors.

Since the launch of the Big Energy-Saving Challenge, all 20 families have cut their electricity bills dramatically, and are now urging others to take the energy-saving issue seriously.

Patricia McKay, whose first bill since the scheme began came in at half the cost she had been used to, said her new best friend is the energy monitor perched in the kitchen.

While discreet in size, the monitor has become a big part of family life in the McKay household in recent times. Patricia, her husband Adrian and their three daughters are now well aware that all it takes are simple steps to make super savings. “When I got my first quarterly bill I couldn’t believe it,”

Patricia, a member of Annaclone Community Engagement Group, said. “I came to the meeting after we all got our bills and everyone’s had dropped. But to halve my bill by making simple changes in the house was just incredible.” Patricia began by swapping a six-bulb chandelier in her living room for one energy-saving bulb. And when she installed the Owl Energy monitor in her kitchen the ability to spot exactly how much it cost every time the fridge door was opened, someone switched on the hairdryer or the television was left on, made them sit up and take note. “I had heard about energy-saving before and thought it was probably a good idea but it never went any further than that,” said the Annaclone mum. “But when things are transferred into an actual amount of money that is being wasted every time you leave something on without needing to it really is a wake-up call. “My first bill fell by £150 and my second by £100. Taking into account the fact we’re using more heat and electricity coming into winter I think that is a real achievement.”

Fellow group member Aldo Fusciardi, whose wife Geraldine and four children are all part of the scheme, said preaching about energy-saving doesn’t really work until someone installs a monitor and realises the true cost of wasted electricity. “One of the worst things is the kettle,” he said. “People tend to fill the kettle every time they go to make a cup of tea - but you should only boil as much water as you are actually going to use. Otherwise it’s a total waste. “I think it is everyone’s responsibility to try and save energy - but without the monitors it’s more difficult because you don’t have that constant reminder.”

Patricia said checking the monitor has become a habit now. “When we first got it we went round the house switching things on and seeing what was costing us the most money,” she said. “But now I find that if the cost shoots up on the monitor I will usually automatically know what’s on - and who is using it,” she laughed.

Children in St Colman’s primary school are currently taking part in Power NI’s Big Picture Competition - something which Aldo said helps them to avoid getting into bad habits in the first place. “The young ones have taken to this really well,” he said. “They are actually better than the adults a lot of the time because they are being educated about all of this from a young age.”

Neil Coleman, Power NI’s project co-ordinator, said they are delighted to be working with groups in the local area. “We’ve been really pleased with the progress of the Annaclone group and we’re currently working on using the £7,500 of funding for their homes,” said Neil. “We will continue to assist and mentor the group through the rest of their energy saving journey. We’re also working with the Banbridge and Craigavon branch of the Chest, Heart and Stroke association and at the end of the year-long challenge, each of the six groups will receive another £7,500 for communities, with the most successful energy saving group winning a fantastic total of £20,000!”

For further information on the Challenge visit