Switch off your lights and switch on your social power

By Ellie Mika, Communications Assistant

Join us for Earth Hour this Saturday 25 March to show your support for action on climate change by switching off your lights for an hour at 8:30pm.

In addition to turning off our lights, we have gathered some interesting information on our UK Buildings, Smart Energy and Innovation shortlists to shine a light on how they save energy year-round.

UK Buildings

Carbon Co-op is an excellent example of how a community can come together and share experience, knowledge and resources on building improvements to achieve energy and CO2 savings and reduce household costs. Based in the Greater Manchester area, a group of more than 100 householders have teamed up with technical experts to look at how best to implement changes to improve comfort, cut energy bills and reduce CO2 emissions by a significant amount.

Passivhaus is the leading international low-energy design standard, and Passivhaus Trust provides advice, training, conferences and certification to Passivhaus architects, engineers, suppliers and builders across the UK. Their buildings achieve significant energy savings compared to building regulations whilst simultaneously providing high levels of comfort and health. They are built with meticulous attention to detail and rigorous design and construction principles.

Smart Energy

Smarter Grid Solutions is successfully enabling the integration of renewable energy generation into the electricity network, in areas that were previously considered to be at maximum capacity. It provides an essential layer in controlling the electricity distribution grid, making the most of existing network infrastructure, and is cutting costs by actively monitoring the network and managing renewable energy generation.

The RES Group has pioneered a large-scale battery storage system which is integrated with a large solar park in Somerset. The project is an important step in enabling communities in the South West to benefit from the integration of additional solar PV generation capacity into the local network.


Sunamp designs, produces and sells compact heat batteries that can be used to store heat from a range of different sources to supply domestic hot water and space heating. The heat batteries take up much less space than a hot water tank, can store heat for longer and are more efficient. The Sunamp system loses much less heat than a water tank, resulting in immediate savings of up to £100 and up to another £200 annual savings by diverting excess electricity from a solar PV system.

Switchee is the first smart thermostat designed specifically for social housing. It monitors temperature, humidity, light levels, motion and air pressure to learn when a home needs heating and when it can be allowed to cool down, for example, when no one is home. It can cut energy use and carbon emissions by up to 15% and compares energy use with neighbouring properties, prompting residents to turn the heating down.

While Earth Hour challenges us to reduce our energy consumption for an hour, it’s important to think about how great an impact we can make by finding and using alternative solutions for reducing our energy consumption for the longer term. Our shortlist have been selected for that very reason, and we’re proud to learn from these innovative organisations and are excited to see how they progress from here.