At the beginning of this academic year we carried out a questionnaire survey amongst our students to see where we are at in terms of their energy saving attitudes and behaviours. Overall, 4,684 students participated in the survey across the UK, Cyprus, Sweden, Lithuania and Greece. The analysis of the survey gave us some interesting findings which can help us identify opportunities and potential for more energy savings for this academic year.
What we got as a general impression is that students have views and attitudes that are favorable towards energy saving – which is great news!
The most important reasons for being energy conscious were: “it is a habit students adopted from home”, “it saves energy”, “it is the right thing to do”, and “it helps reduce global warming”. The reasons that mattered the least were those associated with other peoples’ opinion, namely fitting in with other residents of the dormitory, other peoples’ approval and someone else asking but also that of earning money or prizes out of it.
We also looked at what were the biggest barriers that students faced to being more energy conscious. The most frequent responses were: lack of feedback on how much is consumed, the fact that energy saved in the halls won’t save students any money, that students have other things on their mind, and limitations of the building’s structure and its systems. The reasons that were perceived to be the smallest barriers (if at all) were: sustainable living not being for them, fear of being made fun of and lack of inspiration from the university/college to act in an energy saving manner. A large number of respondents also felt that nothing prevents them from being energy conscious.
Given that ‘lack of feedback on how much is consumed’ was one of the main barriers, it is really exciting that we now have an online dashboard that students can use to regularly see how much energy they have saved!
Switching off lights in empty rooms was an energy saving action that the majority of students seemed to be aware of and apply in their everyday life. There were some other energy saving actions that were not performed as often and that is where we see good potential for further energy saving. Those were: putting a lid on pans when cooking in Cyprus and the UK; boiling the right amount of water in the kettle in Greece; avoiding leaving equipment on stand-by and putting a lid on pans in Sweden; putting an extra layer on before turning on the heating in Lithuania.
We are aiming for a ten percent reduction in energy use across all our participating universities for 2015/16 so addressing the less frequent actions and ensuring students get regular feedback through the dashboard should hopefully help us achieve this goal!
If you’d like to read the full report, you’ll find it here titled ‘Qualifying baseline consumption and pre-intervention behaviours – Year 2’