N. Bardsley & M. Büchs - Community-based initiatives on energy saving and behaviour change
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N. Bardsley & M. Büchs - Community-based initiatives on energy saving and behaviour change



Nick Bardsley and Milena Büchs present their research project which examines the impact of involvement in community-based initiatives on households’ energy use, applying an experimental design. It ...

Nick Bardsley and Milena Büchs present their research project which examines the impact of involvement in community-based initiatives on households’ energy use, applying an experimental design. It addresses different theories on the role of involvement with community initiatives and energy saving/behaviour change, drawing on qualitative interviews with participants from the matched case and control study, and other community initiatives in the UK



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N. Bardsley & M. Büchs - Community-based initiatives on energy saving and behaviour change N. Bardsley & M. Büchs - Community-based initiatives on energy saving and behaviour change Presentation Transcript

  • Initial Effects of a CommunityBased Initiative for Energy Saving Nick Bardsley and Milena Büchs with Patrick James, Anastasios Papafragkou, Tom Rushby, Clare Saunders, Graham Smith, Rebecca Wallbridge and Nick Woodman
  • Background: Emissions Reduction through Behaviour Change?
  • Behavioural Intervention: Focus on Community & Community Groups Davidson (2010); Hargreaves et al (2008); Nye & Burgess (2008); Cox et al (2012) … Can social practices be transformed via social interaction involving community groups? But little hard evidence …
  • Research Design • Matched case and control trial; N = 180 households Control n=75 Treatment n=105 Home insulation upgrade As control group + interaction with community greening group Energy measurement Self-reports on travel & consumption 3 years' observation • Qualitative interviews with participants • Comparative analysis to other energy savings initiatives – qualitative interviews with participants from 7 similar initiatives
  • Building Intervention & Monitors Insulation offer £1000-1500
  • Which Kind of Behavioural Intervention? • Desired – Genuine involvement of community group – Could be adopted by government / local authorities working with such groups – Informed by research • Outcome: – Commitment by CG to run a minimum of 1 householder meeting per year, co-planned – “Energy user group" to meet more frequently
  • Is there a Pulse? • Main research questions are about energy use over the 3 year period, using comprehensive measures • But if intervention makes a difference we would expect to see a "pulse" at the time of the main householder meetings
  • First Meeting • home energy use (spatial heating and electric power) • also wider context (climate change) and energy use (travel and consumption) • "take-home actions" – Reducing thermostat setting by 1C – Not leaving appliances on when not in use – Not leaving things on standby
  • Results: Heating (Temperature)
  • Results: Power Difference 2 Difference 1
  • Statistics: Power Use Change in Power Use: 4 Weeks Before - 4 Weeks After the Event (>50% datapoints) Control 60 Treatment Outliers 40 T-test p=0.049 0 20 Percent BUT … -500 -250 0 250 500 750 -500 -250 0 250 500 750 difference in power (W) Permutation test (2-tailed) "difference in differences" (DID): p = 0.095 Estimated DID = 30W = 5% of national average annualised HH rate
  • Theories • Small groups and (face to face) interaction – Information: deliberation / trust (e.g. Hobson 2003, Middlemiss 2008) – Social norms (e.g. Georg 1999, Davidson 2010, Nye & Burgess 2008) – Self-efficacy (Kollmuss 2002, Heiskanen 2010) • Our data: interviews with 62 participants in 7 community groups
  • Information: deliberation / trust “Through all that I actually got converted if you like. I sort of went from not being interested and not recycling anything and not doing anything to being a volunteer myself. [For example], I think they were talking about saving energy by just boiling a little bit of water in the kettle, and I thought, “Well I can do that.” And then I started doing that at work, and things like that, and it got sort of: “actually, this makes a lot of sense” (Christine, D13) “We were prompted to get the solar panels because it was highlighted to us about the really good tariff. That came from Tom. Well we knew about it a bit, we were sort of vaguely thinking about it but then he said, but you get 40 odd pence (….) a unit you get paid for creating it. And I thought, what? It’s so generous” (Alan, C7) “Yes, it did [help me change behaviours] because I probably wouldn’t have listened to the preaching and the teaching had I not been part of it so yes, it did, it has” (Raymond, D1)
  • Social norms “It [the group] serves as a bit of a reminder sometimes to, sort of, think about what I can do” (Melissa, C3) “Probably it’s… more than learning or not learning, all of them are things that people know, but things that you don’t put into practice. (…) So just being surrounded by that, it puts a little bit of pressure on yourself to do it – so positive pressure more than… [learning something new] (Luca, I1) “So yeah, I think these sort of groups are really good because they just keep pushing you on to consider things and if they don’t work for you then you can say no but if it works then you carry on“ (Mark, C5)
  • Self-efficacy and emotions “Yeah, it [going to meetings and meeting people] bolsters you up a bit. (…) Because otherwise you would get disheartened. You look round and you think, “What’s the point?” But if you know that there’s more than one, it’s not just you that’s making the effort, and especially if you see some younger ones, you know, because like I said to you, if you were born just after the war you’re going to have that sort of mentality anyway, but if it’s younger ones that is really... you think, “Ah, yes, there’s a point to it” (Dawn, C8) “Possibly not [done anything new] but the way in which they’ve been done has probably changed. I think it’s given me a bit more courage to know that there is actually stuff worth doing, that I’m not just a freak of nature that’s doing these crazy things by myself” (Steven, G2) “What it did do was it helped my own feeling of helplessness and depression because it was a way of, perhaps, in a very small way, becoming part of the solution rather than part of the problem” (Lisa, F6)
  • Other Theoretical Perspectives • Economics – inability of received economic theory (e.g. Samuelson, public goods) to explain collective action – alternatives from behavioural economics still focus on means-ends (e.g. reciprocity, team agency); emotional dimension missing • But is means-ends aspect well-conceptualised in psychological theories (individualistic); self-efficacy? • Being part of a joint effort reduces feelings of powerlessness • But prospect of joint success also matters (e.g. voting)
  • Conclusions • Estimated 30W reduction in power use (difference in differences) over 4 weeks • Appears sustained over 15w period • But can't be inferred with confidence i.e. 10% significance level • No evidence of effect on heating energy (temperature) • Initial data suggests potential savings from such interventions • Further work examines rebound, cumulative effects of interventions, qualitative insights
  • Conclusions • Qualitative interview material supports several theories on role of small groups for behaviour change • These mechanisms are likely to overlap • Possible scope for improved characterisation of motivational aspects • Scope for rolling out delivery of energy saving programmes through community groups?
  • References • • • • • • • Davidson, S., 2010. Global Action Plans's EcoTeams Programme. In Peters, M., Fudge, S. & Jackson, T. eds. Low Carbon Communities. Imaginative approaches to combating climate change locally. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 157-177. Georg, S., 1999. The social shaping of household consumption. Ecological Economics, 28 (3), 455-466. Hobson, K., 2003. Thinking Habits into Action: the role of knowledge and process in questioning household consumption practices. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 8 (1), 95 - 112. Kollmuss, A. & Agyeman, J., 2002. Mind the Gap: why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior? Environmental Education Research, 8 (3), 239260. Middlemiss, L.K., 2008. Influencing Individual Sustainability: a review of the evidence on the role of community-based organisations. International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development, 7 (1), 78-93. Nye, M. & Burgess, J., 2008. Promoting Durable Change in Household Waste and Energy Use Behaviour. Report, University of East Anglia. Randall, R., 2013. Carbon Conversations. Six meetings about climate change and carbon reduction. Facilitator's guide (revised ed.). Stirling: The Surefoot Effect.