By Annegret Agricola
The energy efficiency potential is high in all consumer sectors. One private household can quite easily save up to a quarter of its energy consumption by using modern, energy efficient appliances in smarter ways, while companies can, for example, save up to 75% in terms of their lighting. Manufacturing and industrial companies, on the other hand, could benefit from an energy saving/cost saving potential of between 20-30% if they deploy energy efficient air pressure applications, pumps or conveyor systems.
An analysis of a study conducted by the German Energy Agency (DENA) indicates that German consumers are in fact aware of the importance of energy efficiency: Over 70% of those interviewed rated the importance of efficient energy usage as either high or very high. At the same time, half the people interviewed rated their level of knowledge in terms of how to save energy as average or below average. This clearly demonstrates that energy customers are more concerned about how to save energy – not whether energy should be saved.
According to the survey, consumers would like to hear more about savings opportunities in areas like appliances, information and communications technologies. Around 30% would appreciate more advice in terms of energy savings for pumps in heating systems and hot water heating. They also mentioned the need to know the impact of stand-by usage of electronic appliances. Approximately 45% of respondents said they wanted advice on how to save energy.
The survey also asked consumers to indicate how they would like to receive additional information. Most listed classic media such as newspapers and magazines, television and radio as the preferred options, with Internet and brochures also popular. The survey showed that in order to reduce energy consumption, consumers needed to find out more about how to achieve the desired results. This was not only true of private households, but also of corporate and public service decision-makers. Responsible parties within companies often underestimate the extent of the potential to save energy within their companies.
MOTIVATION OF END CONSUMERS
The nationwide Energy Efficiency Initiative from DENA, which is both informative and motivational, represents the starting point for disseminating this knowledge. It tells energy users how to save energy and therefore also lower their bills. It motivates the purchase of smart appliances, with special offers for private households and for industrial, manufacturing and services industries. Offers are as varied as their target markets and range from a diversity of information material, press releases, Internet tools and national competitions and events.
The Energy Efficiency Initiative is a unique publicprivate partnership, equally supported by DENA and energy companies EnBW, E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall Europe, as well as the federal Department of Economy and Technology. The initiative was established in 2002 with the objective of encouraging the use of energy efficiency techniques in all consumer sectors, focusing on the financial advantages to consumers. This strategy is supported by a market research survey, which has shown that customers will take appropriate action if they are able to see the financial benefits. Of course, many customers cite additional motives, depending on their individual situation. Some private households, for example, view sustainability as a key issue. For parents, this might mean that the security of the future of their children in terms of a clean environment is extremely important.
The Initiative also considered current population trends in formulating its message. In the corporate environment economic aspects have priority, yet messages need to reach the various target markets such as technical and commercial decision-makers. The increasing importance of energy efficiency is also demonstrated in the fact that global exhibitions such as the HANNOVER EXPO 2008 have chosen it as one of their themes.
The Energy Efficiency Initiative has developed various communication tools for the diverse markets it seeks to target. It is crucial to provide information relevant to the objectives of each group, and the most important priority is to provide information that will lead to action. The Initiative’s offers and tools are based on three communicative levels. First, consumers are being made aware of energy efficiency issues. Secondly, they are being told what options are available to them to take action; and finally they are being motivated to make conscious purchase decisions, as well as applying energy efficient behaviour. While creating and developing the various offers, the Initiative worked closely with various mar-ket co-operation partners to achieve a more sustained impact.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN PRIVATE HOUSEHOLDS
DENA’s nationwide campaign for end consumers demonstrates how each individual can effectively use energy while reducing energy costs. The communication strategy includes information material, information days and advice for retailers, competitions and events, as well as ongoing public relations activities. Consumers are also reached through retail channels and electricians, to aid credibility. The database that was used to effectively distribute information included 9500 retailers, electricians and other gatekeepers from different social groups.
A central website and information platform was also created: www.stromeffizienz.de. This platform offers tips on saving energy, online tools to calculate energy consumption, advice on choosing energy efficient office and household appliances, and energy efficiency competitions such as a quiz on ‘stand-by’ consumption. The Initiative also offers material for schools and runs competitions to motivate scholars to use energy more efficiently.
ENERGY SAVING COMPETITIONS FOR STUDENT DORMITORIES
One example for reaching the young target market is the energy efficiency competition targeted at students. Students often make use of technical equipment, with PCs and peripherals including printers and scanners being used for several hours per day. If this equipment is not disconnected from the power supply when it is not in use, unnecessary energy losses occur. A one-switch plug that is linked to all equipment and that can easily be switched off has been developed.
In co-operation with the German student association, DENA offered energy competitions for student dorms, aiming to make students more energy aware and to encourage them to decrease their energy consumption. The theme was ‘Switch it off for the party of the year’; in order to compare the various student apartments more easily, students could choose one of three categories. The winners were chosen after comparing their May 2006 with their May 2007 consumption.
Supporting their energy saving initiatives, students received an information kit which was specifically created for this target market. Posters in dormitories, at the student centres and in cafeterias encouraged participation. The Tower of Power was an information kit which included an energy measurement device, information brochures and various give-aways. An energy efficiency check was conducted on May 1st, with each participant being sent a note in his room to advise him of the procedure.
Daily energy efficiency tips via email further encouraged participants. These were based on students’ consumption patterns, relating to how to decrease PC power consumption or the use of oneswitch plugs. A competition encouraged students to continue saving power after six months.
In total 25 student associations participated, which included more than 50 student dorms in total – more than 40% of all German student associations and almost 10,000 students. The winning dormitory saved 24% power in comparison with the previous year’s consumption. All participants used 7% less power than the previous year, which related to total saving of 65,000 kWh.
Results and participation demonstrate that energy efficiency can be fun, too. Well displayed information and the support by the German student association led to motivated participants, which resulted in a positive behavioural change and reduced energy consumption.
THE POWER DEAL
The Energy Efficiency Initiative’s Power Deal is an attractive offer specifically aimed at teenagers and their families. This nationwide power saving initiative motivates this group to consciously use power, by informing them how easy it is to save power.
The Power Deal is a family contract, motivating young people to save power with their parents. Energy saving initiatives are being rewarded financially by their parents, who are enjoying the benefit of lower bills as their children save electricity. Young people who usually have no connection with power costs are asked to actively save power within their households and to document their successes, becoming energy managers in their own homes. Their task is to recognise, control and reduce energy consumption within their household, and their reward is to receive a percentage of the energy costs saved.
On an Internet portal various energy-saving tips, information relating to energy efficient appliances, and the actual Power Deal contract are being saved. Moreover, an online tool is available that documents the teenagers’ savings and helps calculate the amount saved on a weekly basis. Additional competitions with attractive rewards increase the interest in the Power Deal.
These are just two examples of various energy efficiency activities by DENA; the communication strategy is continually evolving: New partners are being created and additional consumer offers are being added. The central platform for DENA’s energy efficiency is the internet platform www.initiative-energieeffizienz.de. This links all offers for end consumers, corporate clients and public institutions.