The role of community-based initiatives in energy saving

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Social Sciences

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/I007504/1 01/10/2010 31/10/2012 £789,358
ES/I007504/2 Transfer ES/I007504/1 01/11/2012 30/09/2014 £295,725
 
Description The project is the first longitudinal experimental analysis of the impact of community initiatives aimed at reducing domestic energy use. Its rigorous interdisciplinary approach makes a significant contribution to current work on behaviour change that often relies on self-reporting of energy practices and fails to compare the impact of interventions with a control.

The field experiment provides evidence of substantial energy savings from insulating homes for middle class households that contrasts with the results of the Warm Front interventions promoted by the UK government that focused on insulating the dwellings of more vulnerable social groups. This indicates the potential of an effective insulation programme for middle class dwellings as part of an energy reduction and climate change mitigation programme.

A local community environmental group organised annual householder meetings focused on energy consumption alongside its normal programme of green activities (having not previously worked in this area) throughout the three years of the fieldwork. There is weak evidence of a short-term effect on electricity consumption following the first householder meeting, but no evidence of these or other energy savings being sustained over the long term. Further experimental work is necessary to investigate whether more intense community-based behavioural interventions can affect significant and sustained change in energy use.

There is no evidence of an effect of the activities of the community group on broader categories of energy use by householders, such as transport and consumption-related activities.

The comparative strand of research that investigated the activities of community groups engaged in energy reduction projects in other parts of the UK found that many of these groups were reluctant to frame their activities in relation to climate change, preferring instead to focus on the potential for money saving. This 'self-censorship' meant that they tended not to promote more radical behaviour change. The finding contrasts with emerging analysis of interviews with participants in community energy saving groups that suggests that a concern for climate change can be a strong motivator for the uptake of more radical low carbon behaviours, including the reduction of air travel.

Methodologically, the research project contributes lessons to the challenging enterprise of planning and delivering complex field experiments, including difficulties involved in collecting and managing household energy data, working with community groups and householders and private sector contractors with very different working methods.

The data collected by the project team has opened up new research questions related to the determinants of energy consumption. The data is novel in that it relates real time energy use with building fabric and socio-economic and network variables. Initial analysis of the social networks of households suggests that low electricity use is associated with households sharing pro-environmental attitudes and contact with environmental organisations. High energy use is associated with households not sharing any of these attitudes and contacts.
Exploitation Route Our findings and data are likely to be exploited to better understand the determinants of energy use across households. There is a significant gap between the theoretical savings suggested by building physics models and the actual savings realised by households because household circumstances and practices interact with physical building improvements such as insulation. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has already expressed an interest in our findings and data, particularly as they can help calibrate the National Household Model (NHM) that will become the UK government's policy scenario tool for 26 million properties. DECC's plan is for this NHM to be open source so that it can also be used by decision makers across government and in other institutions.

The novel data produced by the project has already been exploited by two RCUK funded projects. The EPSRC-funded Transforming Energy Demand through Digital Innovation project used the energy consumption data to develop household heating energy analytics. This dataset enabled the project's PI to co-develop MyJoulo, a British Gas award winning innovation that facilitates households to better understand their heating practices. The Census 2022: Transforming Small Area Socio-Economic Indicators through 'Big Data' project funded by the ESRC has used the electricity data to explore the relationship between household energy use and socio-economic characteristics.
Sectors Energy,Environment

URL http://www.energy.soton.ac.uk/the-role-of-community-based-initiatives-in-energy-saving/
 
Description See Narrative impact report for ES/I007504/2 (same grant)
First Year Of Impact 2009
 
Title UKDS Data Services Platform 
Description UKDS Data Services Platform. Data from CBIES used as pilot. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None to date 
 
Description (MB) 'Carbon, Comfort and Control' workshop: reducing carbon emissions in the social housing sector - UCL, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Learnt more about Carbon, Comfort and Control project.

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (MB) Blacon Energy Management Programme (BEMP) Programme Results Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Took part and learnt more about Sustainable Blacon/DECC LCCC programme

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (MB) DECC / SDRN workshop 'Collaborative sustainable development research' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Event on Action Research in sustainable Development. Took part in discussion and stimulated thinking

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description (MB) Energy and Communities project meeting, Keele 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk led to questions and discussion.

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (MB) Sustainable Transitions - Capacities for Transition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Took part in discussion and stimulated thinking

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/RES-451-26-0824/read
 
Description (RW) Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Made links with other projects

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (RW) Blacon Sustainability Convention 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Made links with other projects

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description (RW) Bringing eco-cities to life: community engagement, local activism 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Made links with other projects

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (RW) Changing Lives, Changing Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Discussion with other academics about use of behaviour change models

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (RW) Community energy and energy saving event (University of Exeter) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Sharing knowledge

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description (RW) Energy Away Day, University of Southampton 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Sharing knowledge

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (RW) Engaging Communities on Climate Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Sharing knowledge

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (RW) Researching Transition: Bringing together academics and activists interested in researching the Transition Movement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Made links with other projects

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description (RW) Researching Transition: Values in Transition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Sharing knowledge

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description (RW) The everyday politics of sustainability transitions 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Made links with other projects

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Lecture at Renmin University of China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact (How) Can Environmental Third Sector Initiatives Encourage Low Carbon Behaviours?, Lecture at Renmin University of China, School of Environment and Natural Resources, Beijing, 24 April 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Lecture at the China University of Geosciences, School of Humanities and Economic Management, Beijing, 21 April 2017 (Buchs, M) "(How) Can Environmental Talk at Third Sector? Initiatives Encourage Low Carbon Behaviours" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Lecture at the China University of Geosciences, School of Humanities and Economic Management
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The Role of Communities in Household Energy Reduction - Who, How and Why? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 60 participants - active members of civil society organisations (CSOs), local authority officers and members and academics - gathered for a one-day conference jointly organised by the research team and Winchester Action on Climate Change. The morning focused on disseminating results from the project; the afternoon on the challenges faced by CSOs in framing their domestic energy reduction strategies.

Fulsome praise for the event from the feedback, especially from civil society activists who welcomed the chance to think critically about their own framing activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.winacc.org.uk/news/2014-09-30/role-communities-household-energy-reduction---who-how-and-w...