Being married to an energy engineer rubbed off on Abhishek Jain who launched Bijli Bachao (.in) in February this year with his wife, Manisha. The website offers various tips that help people save electricity in their homes and consequently lower their bills. “Similar initiatives in India are geared towards industries since they’re the biggest energy consumers,” says Jain. “You might think that saving electricity in residences may not add up to much, but the cumulative impact is large. That’s why we decided to start something at an individual level.”
Before moving to Mumbai, Jain worked in the US where he was exposed to the country’s uproar over climate change and global warming as well as his wife’s forays into the energy sector. “In the US, energy consumption is 10 times more than it is in India but, unlike in our country, there is no gap between demand and supply which means everyone gets the energy they need,” Jain explains. “The need for saving energy is much more in India. We rely heavily on importing coal and gas from other countries.”
While there have been sustainable development enterprises in India, Jain believes it needs to happen at a much larger scale to become relevant.
The website provides several articles that offer general energy saving tips as well as content that answers queries about specific appliances. It also has calculators where people can statistically calculate the benefits of using a BEE (The Bureau of Energy Efficiency) five-star rated refrigerator compared to a three-star rated one. “While the latter is cheaper, the calculators will help you figure out how much you’ll spend for operational costs,” says Jain. “You end up saving Rs 2,000 a year if you buy a five-star rated appliance.” A monthly newsletter updates people about the latest energy-related information and provides seasonal tips while case studies help people utilise the information in their own homes.
Currently, the website has about 1,500-2,000 visitors every day. Jain admits that going through all the articles on the site may prove to be cumbersome to many people. “We’re hoping to launch a customised service by next month,” he says. “People can send us their energy efficiency questions and we’ll help them in a way that’s best suited to their life.” The website recently started a section featuring renewable energy sources to guide interested users.
“In a country like India, it is extremely important to use electricity efficiently thanks to the frequent power cuts in large parts of the country and absence of electricity in others,” Jain says. “Bijli Bachao is our way of contributing to the process of the global climate movement. By saving electricity, we hope to save the environment, but for the common man in India, cutting costs in his daily life takes precedence over all other matters. If you talk of conservation and make it a movement, you will get limited participation,” Jain reasons. “We’re trying to involve more people. So, while we advocate energy conservation, we make it clear that they’ll be saving money too. It’s a win-win situation.”