May 29, 2009
For energy experts and energy intermediaries, energy efficiency is the most logical thing in the world. Unfortunately, energy end-users rarely see the world in the same way. For energy end-users, energy use is often ‘invisible' and rarely the subject of conscious decision. Thus, getting to know the end-user target group and finding the best ways to engage users are key issues for energy demand-side practitioners.
We draw on data collected in CHANGING BEHAVIOUR to explore user involvement in energy change. When analysing the ways in which our case programmes had learned about energy end-users’ needs, we found the following approaches:
- 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
We found that none of these approaches provides a ‘silver bullet’ to achieve success and change end-user behaviour. The approaches to learning about the end-users reflect slightly different approaches to planning. The paper explores the pros and cons of various approaches to learning about end-users. We conclude that methods for engaging end-users should be context-sensitive and allow practitioners to go “beyond method” – and beyond the view of end-users as passive recipients of approved solutions – to adopt a relational approach to end-users. This means understanding one’s own relation to the end-users and viewing the end-users in a broader dynamic context. Rather than examining and working with isolated end-users, there is a need for tools that address end-users in context.
Full paper: Heiskanen, E., Johnson, M. & Vadovics, E. (2009). Creating Lasting Change in Energy Use Patterns through Improved User Involvement. Paper for the conference Joint Actions on Climate Change, Aalborg, June 9-10, 2009.