Energy awareness services - scientific background and European best practices.

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In order to fight climate change, all potentials for lowering energy consumption have to be exploited. Tackling global warming is not only a technological problem - replacing conventional energy sources by renewable energy sources and promoting energy efficiency in traffic, industries and buildings - but also a problem of human behaviour. Human behaviour consists to a considerable degree of day-to-day routines and social practices which are not favourable to a sustainable use of energy. The Beware project, co-funded by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation EACI, aims at providing residents and housing companies with "energy awareness services" enabling them to reduce the household-related energy consumption. Thus, in collaboration with housing associations and other relevant stakeholders of the housing sector the project consortium systematically gathers, evaluates and disseminates energy awareness services.

In this paper we will first provide a statistical overview on household energy consumption and the behaviour-related energy saving potential in the EU member states. Subsequently we will discuss prominent studies on strategies to influence residents. We will distinguish two meta categories as suggested by Abrahamse et al. (2005). Antecedent strategies are defined as all kind of measures pursued before the energy-related behaviour they aim to modify. This classification refers to intervention measures such as information material (e.g. flyers or events) or goal-setting for a household's energy saving. In contrast, consequence strategies such as feed back action and incentive schemes (e.g. favourable tariffs or credits) intend to influence users by opposing previous energy-related behaviour to alternative, more sustainable consumption patterns. Empirical studies indicate that general information alone, diffused by flyers, brochures, exhibitions, events, or campaigns is not very likely to modify consumer habits, whereas feed-back measures combined with individual consultation seem to be a promising approach to shape human behaviour. Depending on the chosen strategies savings from 10 to 20% of the gas and electricity consumption can be achieved

Given this background, this paper presents a selection of best practice cases found in the BewareE research process. These include web tools, exhibitions and special events, personalized energy advice, training forums, energy monitoring, low cost incentives as well as targeted consulting measures for housing companies. Many of them contain elements of both, antecedent and consequence strategies, whereas others represent a "transcendent" distinct category of services that we would like to call "empowerment services". These services cannot be categorized by their temporal intervention but by their particular approach of user involvement which gives people an active role in conceiving and implementing energy saving measures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECEEE 2009 Summer Study : Act! Innovate! Deliver! Reducing energy demand sustainably
EditorsChristel Broussous
Number of pages12
PublisherEuropean Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
Publication date2009
ISBN (Print)978-91-633-4454-1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
EventEuropean Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Studies - 2009: Act! Innovate! Deliver! Reducing energy demand sustainably - La Colle sur Loup, France
Duration: 01.06.200906.06.2009

Bibliographical note

Panel 8. Dynamics of consumption