According to Tom King, GreenBuild’s newest employee, improving the energy literacy of private householders and business owners, alike, will help to change behaviour that can reduce energy consumption and lower energy bills.

The European Commission recognises that the education and promotion of efficient energy practices are essential for raising awareness and saving energy; and they estimate that by 2020 households could reduce their current energy consumption by 27%. The European Commission also suggest that businesses could save a similar figure.

However, although modern buildings have been designed to be more energy efficient, energy consumption has increased due to the proliferation of technology in the workplace. This further reinforces the need to change behaviour to start reducing consumption across the business world.

So, how do we start to change behaviour?

There are two important factors to encourage energy efficient behaviour: enabling and motivating. Enabling factors include financial, technical and organisational resources — such as subsidies, availability of products and relevant advice.

Motivating factors relate to personal drivers of behaviour, such as awareness, knowledge, perceived capabilities and a desire to create change. Individuals need to become aware of their energy use and to be aware of the impact of their behaviour. Smart meters are starting to play an increasingly important role in raising the awareness of householders’ consumption patterns and how they can reduce their energy needs.

How can we educate householders and business leaders?
The following activities can help to raise awareness of the energy saving agenda and provide practical advice for individuals and corporate energy users, alike.

Workshops & presentations – Groups of employees can prepare presentations to identify potential energy efficiency measures that their companies or organisations could adopt. Internal presentations can also be used to reinforce and encourage energy efficient behaviour.

Energy monitoring – Smart meters and smartphone apps can help individuals and companies monitor their energy usage in real-time..

Quantifying environmental effects of energy consumption – The impact of energy usage can be measured by monitoring bills and assessing the environmental impacts.

Visual information – Reminders adjacent to electrical appliances and switches can encourage individuals and employees to be more mindful to turn things off when they’re not being used.

Simple renewable energy installations – Householders and business owners should consider the installation of solar panels or wind turbines, linked to displays that provide real-time information showing usage and how much energy is being sold back to the grid.

More specifically, information can be readily made available that offers the following advice and details of how much each energy saving activity can achieve:

  • Turn off the lights in rooms that are not being used (household savings of around £14/yr)
  • Turn off the heating in rooms that are not being used (household savings of around £75/yr)
  • Only fill kettles with as much water as needed before boiling (household savings around £7/yr)
  • Turn appliances completely off, not left on standby (household savings around £30/yr)
  • Only print or photocopy items, if absolutely necessary
  • Defrost freezers on time
  • Turn the heating off at night or set the thermostat to 15 degrees
  • Wear warmer clothes during colder months so that less heating is required
  • Wash full loads of laundry at a lower temperature

In conclusion, by adopting energy efficient behaviours both householders and business leaders will save money and will also reduce the impact on the environment.

Arguably, the most important consideration is the consistency of the exposure to energy efficient knowledge, since this will encourage environmentally conscious behaviour that will deliver positive long-term benefits for personal and corporate finances, and for the environment.