Changing Behaviour


Creating Lasting Change in Energy Use Patterns through Improved User Involvement

The article explores the issue of energy efficiency from the perspective of end-users. While energy experts and intermediaries see energy efficiency as a logical thing, end-users do not share the same viewpoint. Energy use is often invisible to them, and they are rarely conscious of their energy consumption. Therefore, engaging with end-users is essential for energy demand-side practitioners to promote energy efficiency.

The paper analyses data collected in CHANGING BEHAVIOUR to explore user involvement in energy change. The following are some of the approaches that our case programmes had learned about energy end-users’ needs:

– Surveys, interviews, or group meetings
– Prior research, particular theoretical perspectives
– Experience from prior projects and similar examples
– User-driven project (or pilot project)
– Familiarity and informal interaction with end-users

However, none of these approaches provides a silver bullet for success in changing end-user behavior. Rather than examining and working with isolated end-users, there is a need for tools that address end-users in context. Therefore, methods for engaging end-users should be context-sensitive and allow practitioners to go beyond method and adopt a relational approach to end-users.

We conclude that practitioners should understand their own relationship with end-users and view the end-users in a broader dynamic context. This means understanding the broader context of end-users and viewing them as active participants rather than passive recipients of approved solutions. In this way, we can create lasting change in energy use patterns through improved user involvement.

The full paper, titled “Creating Lasting Change in Energy Use Patterns through Improved User Involvement,” was presented at the Joint Actions on Climate Change conference in Aalborg in June 2009.

Energy efficiency is of paramount importance to energy experts and intermediaries, but the same cannot be said for end-users. The lack of awareness among end-users about energy consumption has resulted in their apathy towards energy-saving initiatives. It is imperative that practitioners find the best ways to engage with end-users and target their needs to bring about energy change.

To address this, we conducted an in-depth analysis of user involvement in energy change, drawing on data collected in CHANGING BEHAVIOUR. Through this analysis, we identified the different approaches to learning about energy end-users’ needs, including surveys, interviews, group meetings, prior research, and experience from prior projects. We found that no single approach provides a “silver bullet” to achieve success and change end-user behavior.

We advocate for practitioners to adopt a relational approach to end-users, which means understanding one’s own relation to the end-users and viewing the end-users in a broader dynamic context. This approach entails going “beyond method” and treating end-users as active participants rather than passive recipients of approved solutions. To achieve this, practitioners must use context-sensitive methods that address end-users in the broader context.

It is crucial to note that engaging with end-users is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Practitioners must tailor their approach to the specific context and needs of the end-users. By understanding the needs of end-users, practitioners can develop more effective engagement strategies and achieve lasting change in energy use patterns.

Our research highlights the importance of involving end-users in the energy change process. It is only through improved user involvement that lasting change can be achieved in energy use patterns. Practitioners must focus on building a strong relationship with end-users, engaging them as active participants, and using context-sensitive methods to address their needs.