"The Role of Community-Based Initiatives in EnergySaving"www.energy.soton.ac.uk/communitiesDr Rebecca Wallbridge, University of SouthamptonR.E.Wallbridge@soton.ac.uk
Challenges of working with community groups• Competing expectations of the research can be difficult to manage• ‘Unknowablility’ of capacity of groups• Life-cycle of groups
Early findings: Household interventionsSocial networksValues and practices
Early findings: Household interventionsSocial networksValues and practices• Household interventionsImpact of first household meeting (Oct2011, Feb 2012):Reductions in electrical power of around 30Win treatment group compared to control group(p <0.1)
• Social networksSaunders, C., Buchs, M., Papafragrou, A., Wallbridge, R. and Smith, G. (2013) Beyond the activist ghetto: a deductive blockmodeling approach to understandingthe relationship between contact with environmental organisations and public attitudes and behaviour. Social Movement Studies (In Press).Energy use is associated with theextent of pro-environmentalattitudes and ‘contact’ withenvironmental organisations(exposure to messages / paidsupporter).Low household electricity use associated with households sharing pro-environmentalattitudes and contact with environmental organisations.High energy use is associated with households not sharing any of theseModerate energy use is associated with a moderate degree of sharing.
• Values and practices“Geoff: Well, if we really wanted to we wouldn’t go on such energy intensive holidays, but we do.There’s no… Well, I think we could try and economise but we don’t want to wear too hairy a shirt.Jane: Yeah, I suppose that’s true.Geoff : Within reason we’ll save money, but we don’t want to become mugs.”Reducing energy use in the home in order to ‘save the planet’ or ‘save money’ appear toimpact on wider lifestyles.Those with pro-environmental values, for who saving energy is linked to climate changereorder their consumption habits in other areas of life (such as travel, leisure, food).Those for whom cost is their main concern have a narrower focus, and are primarilyinterested in whether a change saves them money.“Nick: Well, it’s just a major part of the way I view life and the universe and everything, it’s lookingafter the environment. I think that probably increased when my daughter was born in 2004.Because I used to go off on flights to the sun every year just like everybody else, like the herd, youknow, and these days I tend to holiday in this country…So my idea of a summer holiday now is acanal restoration group, a whole bunch of people restoring old canals for fun, and it is a lot of fun.”
Policy implications:• Challenge of working with community groups – life-cycle of groups• Time scale of behaviour change – both in terms of interventions andvariability across life stages• Framing of energy saving in terms of values and how this relates to otheractivities such as transport, leisure, food – potential benefits of a more‘holistic’ approach