Over 90% of Irish people consider climate change to be a serious problem with almost 70% considering it a very serious problem. In this blog, Karl talks about how Irish people think about energy and what works for changing behaviour.
How do we think about energy?
We don’t. Or more accurately, most people don’t think about energy most of the time. Most electricity and gas customers pay their bills by direct debit. Many gas and electricity customers also admit that they never read their bill.
For most of us, using energy is not an end-goal in and of itself. It is a means to an end. We turn on a light to see. We turn on the heating because we are cold. In fact, a lot of the time, we end up doing something that uses energy simply out of habit.
Do we think that saving energy is important?
This isn’t to say that people do not have any opinions about energy, how they use it, or the environmental consequences of using too much of it. Over 90% of Irish people consider climate change to be a serious problem with almost 70% considering it a very serious problem. Irish people believe climate change is a serious problem and think that more public support is needed to transition to clean energy sources. While a larger proportion of people think that the government or the European Union are responsible for tackling climate change, many Irish people still agree that they themselves are responsible. So, do we have the necessary knowledge to act on our sense of responsibility?
Are we aware of the best ways to save energy?
Results from a recent survey conducted by SEAI showed that when people were asked to rank the top three behaviours they thought would save the most energy, the top three responses were:
- Using LED bulbs
- Draught proofing your home and
- Turning appliances off standby
While each of these behaviours will help to save energy, there were other behaviours on the list which lead to larger savings, such as using a timer for the immersion and using a timer to control heating times. Using your heating system more efficiently is the number one thing you can do to reduce your home’s energy use.
Interestingly, when the same respondents had previously been asked to spontaneously list the day to day things they were currently doing to save energy, the most popular answer was “don’t know / I don’t do anything” followed by “switching off the lights when not in use”, followed by “turning off appliances on standby”.
Taken together these results suggest that people are unlikely to be aware of the best ways to save energy in their home. Why is this?