GreenDependent Institute

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Energy saving lifestyle experiment ends with success

In response to the increasingly urgent climate change challenge, several climate and energy targets are promoted with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonising the economy. However, the current pace and scale of change is insufficient to achieve the necessary sustainability transitions in energy systems; there is an increasing realisation that meeting energy targets is highly dependent on several complex aspects of final energy consumption patterns or energy demand. As households are responsible for one third of final energy use, they are seen as playing a role in energy transitions - which implies challenging social norms and habits around energy usage in the home.

Along with GreenDependent Institute as the Hungarian project partner, the ENERGISE project - funded under the EU's Horizon 2020 programme - aims to achieve a greater understanding of the social and cultural influences on energy consumption. In 8 European countries over 300 households were involved in the ENERGISE Living Labs from September to December 2018. Hungary was represented by the town of Gödöllő where 41 families participated in the programme. Households applied for participation in the summer of 2018, and only those meeting the research specifiations could take part in the Living Labs. The participants took on two main challenges:

  • a laundry challenge to halve the number of weekly laundry cycles; and
  • a heating challenge to reduce indoor temperature in their living-rooms to 18°C.

The purpose of challenges was to 'rupture' the households' daily routines in terms of laundry and heating. Thus, both the research team and participants can gain better understanding of the role of social norms, skills, competences, material and infrastructural aspects related to everyday energy use.

The main Hungarian results were published at the local ENERGISE final event held on the 6th April 2019 in the town of Gödöllő organised by GreenDependent:

  • habits and daily routines changed (e.g. participants decided to wash a piece of clothing due to stains or smell, rather than to the length of wear, which does not necessarily mean dirty clothing);
  • expectations changed (e.g. daytime indoor temperature considered ideal before the Living Labs decreased from 22-23°C to 20-21°C by the end);
  • the way participants used the laundry machines and heating system changed; e.g. with the aid of energy meter participants learned which programmes and settings were the most energy efficient, and they started to use these afterwards;
  • the numbers and temperatures of laundry cycles decreased everywhere, and also indoor temperatures were reduced in most households, and on average by 1°C; and
  • less energy was used for laundry and heating than before, thus emissions of greenhouse gases also decreased.

It is good news that several participants were able to halve the number of laundry cycles they do every week, and there were households where daytime indoor temperature decreased below 19.5°C.

As compared to the overall energy consumption of the previous (baseline) year, Living Lab participants were able to reduce their energy consumption by 10% on average until the end of the Living Labs. Changes and reduction of energy use, however, continued even after the challenges ended. Based upon questionnaries and the reading of meters, reduction in both areascontinued, and the average energy savings achieved increased to as much as 15% three months after the Living Lab.

Thus, as shown above, we are able to change our daily practices and achieve significant energy savings even without any investment.

The analysis of results continues, including a a comparison between the 8 countries participating in the project.

For further information please vising the ENERGISE project website at www.energise-project.eu

 

 

 

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