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Step by step commitments for energy saving

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - STEP_BY_STEP (Step by step commitments for energy saving)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-02-28

Step by Step was intended to reduce energy consumption of households. Households were regularly encouraged to try energy-saving actions through an intensive digital accompaniment. The expected results consisted in behavioural changes in favour of the environment. Step by Step contributes to achieve the EU20-20-20 targets by reducing energy consumption of households. Energy-saving interventions were launched in 4 areas: Gent (Belgium), Cefalú (Italy), L’Alcúdia (Spain) and Warsaw (Poland).
Step by Step is innovative thanks to its focus on personal contact. Existing campaigns, as mass media campaigns, provide a general awareness but do not provoke large scale change. The start-up E3D-Environment has developed a methodological interventions package to support massive and durable behavioural changes:
It starts by door-to-door contact with households in order to propose short interviews. Households are invited to answer several questions and to try out 1 to 3 simple actions. Then, participants are solicited regularly through email or by phone and are coached over a 20-month period towards the adoption of energy-saving practices. The coaching is managed by a digital web-based system based on the behavioural strategy. Suggested actions are personalised to suit their profiles. The actions go from easy (to wash hands with cold water) to more difficult (to turn down heating temperature) and finally become challenges representing an investment decision (to purchase A+++ dishwasher). The actions are assembled in patterns enabling to follow different paths to adopt new behaviours step by step. Each household takes its own path. The overall goal is to maximize the percentage of households of a homogeneous area that adopt energy-saving behaviours.
The successful deployment towards more than 6.700 households has permitted to give field evidence of the positive effect of a behavioural campaign. It provided a meaningful tool to reduce residential energy consumption and to sharpen households’ thinking about energy-savings. The results were consistent in all targeted communities, in different types of locations in different countries.
The project has increased the knowledge of participants on energy-saving topics. On average, the participants have successfully changed at least 2 of their habits. The impact analysis shows a decrease in energy consumption as compared to the control groups in all locations. The estimated energy-savings of the project are in the range of 3 to 5 %.
Moreover, Step by Step has enabled the Consortium to consolidate good practices. This will ease the future implementation of behaviour change campaigns and increase their efficiency.
Recruiting participants. Experts in behavioural sciences in E3D-Environment have designed a coaching strategy and produced communication contents. Interviews were conducted by the territorial partners with the technical and organisational support from E3D-Environment. This phase led to the registration of 6.254 households: 1.408 in L’Alcúdia, 1.441 in Cefalù, 744 in Ghent and 3.113 in Warsaw.
- 93% have given an email or a phone number
- 86 % have accepted to try practical energy-saving actions to do at home during 1 month.
- On average, people chose 1.8 actions, whereas most people chose 2 actions. Trends are similar among the 4 cities.

Coaching. For about 18 months, participants were contacted multiple times by email and by the phone advisors mandated by the territorial partners. The coaching contents were designed by E3D’s experts in behavioural sciences.
- More than 80% of the participants were regularly contacted and gave feedback on their actions (every 3 months).
- 97% of all participants decided to carry out at least 1 energy-saving action.
- 90% of those who gave feedback carried out successfully at least 1 of the chosen actions.

Community-based strategies. To promote a sense of community by introducing a common goal, the territorial partners have organized 2 collective challenges. They aimed at contacting a maximum of households in a limited time and so to give a good dynamic to the project. For example, 78% of participants in Warsaw (2.428 participants) were called in 1 month! L’Alcudia has organized a celebration of the summer challenge to provide a better visibility.
Generally speaking, these challenges were popular and brought a good dynamic. This confirms that the project enables the local authority to contact and mobilize a significant part of its population.
Assessment of the results. Control groups have been created in the 4 areas. The territorial partners tested various data collection channels. The collected data was of different size, type and quality, which necessitated individualised approach to methods used for processing and analysing data in each location. This has to be taken into consideration for the interpretation of project results.
Dissemination activities. Many actions have been carried out: website, newsletter, participation brokerage events, press releases... The project has been presented to various cities interested for replication. A twin project has been launched in Marseille.
The implementation has driven the consortium to define good practices for future behavioural change campaigns. Recommendations are for the attention of planners and managers of behavioural programmes, data analysis or behavioural scientists, energy efficiency experts, European Commission, EU Member States, national and international research funding bodies as well as research organisations.
Project management. Project governance has been deployed as planned. The following meetings have been held: 1 Kick-off Meeting, 8 Management Boards, Monthly calls, 3 Partners Meetings, 2 Advisory Boards.
The project achieved great results so far by demonstrating that:
• A large-scale mobilisation campaign enables to engage up to 93% of approached residents in an awareness program (in L’Alcúdia). This ratio varies in function of the area and the requirements of the project (for example to sign or not a paper form).
• With the right organisation and appropriate adaptations, a local government can successfully deploy the method on a large scale. Engaging a subcontractor experienced in coaching activities, a NGO or a local energy agency shall be considered.
• Using dedicated ICT tools allows for the deployment of a behaviour change campaign on a large scale and for a regular and individualized coaching at acceptable costs
• Using social and behavioural sciences can provoke behaviour changes in up to 78% of the participants changing about 5 of their habits (in L’Alcúdia).
• Leading a behavioural campaign allows to observe real decrease in annual household energy consumptions.
• Using social and behavioural levers to prompt behaviour change can work in any place in Europe. Considering the heterogeneity of performances among the territories, further research would permit to adapt the communication techniques to socio-cultural specificities.
• The project has societal impact. It provides jobs locally for advisors and represents a unique opportunity for residents to have a dialogue with their local authority: it enforces the feeling of proximity with their local government. Finally, the collective effect of the project drives to a positive dynamic in a neighbourhood and to improve the environment and the sense of belonging.