Connect with us


New Report Shows Energy Efficiency Campaigns Are Missing a Trick



Only one in five energy efficiency behaviour change programmes actively identifies and removes barriers to change, suggesting that all too often building occupants may not be getting the help they need to act energy efficiently. That is the surprise finding from the latest issue of the UK Energy Efficiency Trends report (Volume 13) produced and published by EEVS and Bloomberg New Energy Finance in association with Global Action Plan in January 2016.

The report provides evidence that no cost/low cost behaviour change programmes could be more effective if 80% of them focused more on making energy saving actions easier for building users at the outset.

The latest EEVS UK Energy Efficiency Trends report covers Q3 of 2015. It includes a dataset to help shed light on what constitutes a behaviour change programme and the impacts the initiatives are making on the ground. The research found that savings could be increased by using more behavioural levers and that while the breadth of communications was good, savings could be increased further if suppliers better understood organisational barriers to potential change.

With two decades of behaviour change experience, these issues are well understood by Global Action Plan.

“Successful behaviour change requires a solution that suits the local audience, desired actions, available communication methods and organisational culture. One size does not fit all,” explained Chris Large, Senior Partner at Global Action Plan.

“The report shows the trend in engagement activities to be positive. There is a broad split between the different ways of reaching occupants, including the use of online and hard copy communications, senior lead messaging, face to face conversations, energy training and recruiting energy champions. This suggests energy teams are selecting methods that are right for their situation.

“However, the trend in the use of behavioural levers leaves room for improvement.

“Unlike engagement activities, it is good practice to use certain behavioural levers in most situations. Two behavioural levers are under-used. Identifying and removing barriers to change is a lever that overcomes whatever stops people being energy efficient. This is happening in less than 1 in 5 programmes run by energy teams, suggesting that occupants frequently may not be getting all the help they need to act energy efficiently. For example, if a bank of light switches in a shared office is not labelled, staff may hesitate to turn out the light for fear of plunging their colleagues into darkness.

“The other lever that is under used is emphasising the ‘other benefits’ that energy efficiency brings beyond cost and carbon savings. Emphasising benefits to occupants has proven highly successful – such as in hospitals where the benefits of using natural light and lights-out curfews in helping patients to sleep was highly motivating to nurses.

“Often, this emphasis on occupant benefits is crucial, as leading with the savings may not align with building occupants’ core motivations. For example, nurses are likely to care most about their patients’ well-being, not energy bills and so encouraging nurses to remember to switch out the light is more powerful if the motivation is to help their patients rest and recover.

“The survey shows energy teams favour the savings message 70% of the time, but only communicate ‘other benefits’ 25% of the time. If projects were to more frequently promote all benefits and to also help occupants overcome their barriers to change, savings from projects could be higher,” he concluded.

unnamed (4)

Download the graph above here:EET Jan 2016 Figure 29
ownload the full report here:

Compiled from the results of a confidential, quarterly industry survey, the UK Energy Efficiency Trends Report clearly evidences industry trends and has become one of the sector’s leading sources of market intelligence. The report covers both energy suppliers and consumers, providing differentiated results for each market sector.

The report is delivered by a research partnership between EEVS and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and supported by Bird & Bird, Bellrock and Schneider Electric.

Call for new respondents

New respondents are always needed to complete the survey. The ideal respondents fall into two categories:

  • Directors within energy efficiency supply organisations
  • Those responsible for reducing energy consumption within organisations

There is no restriction on size of organisation. Those interested in taking part in the next survey can register using this link:


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

Continue Reading


7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

Continue Reading