The role of community-based initiatives in energy saving
UK Research Council’s (RCUK) Energy Progamme – a cross council initiative supported by EPSRC, ESRC, NERC, BBSRC, STFC
Principal Investigator: Professor Graham Smith; Co-Investigators: Dr Nick Bardsely (Reading), Dr Milena Büchs, Dr Patrick James (Southampton), Dr Clare Saunders (Exeter), Dr Nick Woodman (Southampton)
This three-and-a-half year project aims to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the role that community-based initiatives can play in fostering net energy savings in UK households.
The project adopts a mixed-methods approach and is a collaboration between social scientists and engineers. The main element of the project is an innovative field experiment: a matched case and control trial in which households in both treatment and control groups receive cavity wall and loft insulation. In the treatment group, the insulation is delivered as part of an ongoing community project promoting low-carbon lifestyles. The energy use of the households will be monitored over four heating seasons to discover if the community-based initiative has any significant impact on net energy savings.
Regular surveys and selected semi-structured interviews with participants in the treatment and control groups will provide insights into changes in participants’ attitudes and practices, including their broader consumption patterns. Both intervention and control groups are located in Hampshire. A second strand of research offers a comparative dimension: comparing the experimental results with the activities and impact of a wider range of community initiatives focused on domestic energy reduction across the UK.