Info!
UPDATED 1 Sept: The EI library in London is temporarily closed to the public, as a precautionary measure in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The Knowledge Service will still be answering email queries via email , or via live chats during working hours (09:15-17:00 GMT). Our e-library is always open for members here: eLibrary , for full-text access to over 200 e-books and millions of articles. Thank you for your patience.
magazine logo
magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Engaging colleagues in energy behaviour change in 2023

18/1/2023

4 min read

Head and shoulders photo of Dr Mark Burrows Photo: M Burrows
Dr Mark Burrows, Client Development Director – Plan Zero, Mitie Energy and Member of the EI Energy Management Panel

Photo: M Burrows

A successful energy transition depends on behavioural changes, but these can be challenging to inspire, maintain and direct. Here, Dr Mark Burrows, Client Development Director – Plan Zero, Mitie Energy, and Member of the EI Energy Management Panel, provides his recommendations using the EI’s new Energy Essentials: A guide to energy and carbon management.

As we settle into the new year, we hope it will be less turbulent than the past three, marked by the global pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and recent political instability in the UK.

 

Some of us may be sighing with relief that the gloomiest predictions about energy shortages, rationing and blackouts have so far not materialised and the unprecedented spike in wholesale gas and electricity prices we saw last year has reversed to more manageable levels.

 

Meanwhile, the government’s emergency packages for vulnerable households, subsidy schemes for businesses and an unseasonably warm winter have helped the economy to navigate the energy price crisis. However, given widespread concerns about the support schemes being unsustainably expensive, organisations should start to develop effective energy strategies to manage price volatility instead of relying on indefinite government support. The best place to start reducing energy use is by changing behaviour.

 

So, here are my suggestions for how to get colleagues behind energy efficiency in 2023.

Lead internal discussions on your organisation’s energy efficiency. As energy professionals, we need to help organisations understand how energy performance and investment in decarbonisation are linked, and propose the best solutions to reach net zero goals and reduce bills. 


By elevating the issue to executive level, decarbonisation and energy performance can become a key strategic focus for the organisation and be engrained in organisational culture. There are a number of practical ways to do this – for example, through health and safety procedures, induction courses, performance appraisals or wider environmental initiatives. It may take decarbonisation champions across the organisation to drive these forwards.


Consider finding an energy professional knowledgeable about behaviour change to balance the technological investment in energy saving solutions, to map out a wider energy saving campaign across your organisation and maximise the opportunity to sustain your efficiency benefits.

 

Use insight to create organisational action. Energy managers have an important role to play to ensure energy efficiency is tackled in the best order to maximise decarbonisation and cost benefits. This starts with understanding what, when and how energy is used, before turning that data into actions to reduce use through your behavioural change campaign. For instance, the average building could save a month’s worth of energy annually just by avoiding cleaning it at peak times and instead using energy during cheaper periods.


We can then identify further energy efficiency drives such as effective insulation to reduce energy demand. Once some easy wins have been achieved, organisations are more likely to invest in bigger projects, such as self-generation through solar or heat pump technology, and implement long-term plans for energy security. 


Organise your behaviour change campaign. Moving to a more energy conscious culture means people must inevitably modify long-standing habits. To overcome inertia or reluctance to establish sustainable processes and ways of working, the benefits of any targeted change must be clearly demonstrated to everyone in an organisation.

 

Step-by-step instructions on how to mount such a behaviour change campaign are offered by the EI’s Energy Essentials: A guide to energy and carbon management.

 

This online guide is built on the EI’s three-level energy management training framework which supports professionals with the messages to focus on, and how to make the campaign language persuasive and impactful. Another helpful source of information are the insights of the Energy Conscious Organisation (EnCO) – a collaborative initiative launched by the Energy Services and Technology Association (ESTA) and the Energy Institute.

 

To overcome inertia or reluctance to establish sustainable processes and ways of working, the benefits of any targeted change must be clearly demonstrated to everyone in an organisation.

 

The ability to change people’s behaviour is vital to successfully improving energy efficiency across the economy. Maintaining lasting change in behaviour in any organisation is down to its management and, ultimately, all colleagues. They should, however, be supported by tailored advice by energy experts on how to action changes to reduce energy bills, waste and emissions and ultimately help to decarbonise the UK.

 

Mitie’s Plan Zero team endorse structured behaviour change and are helping our customers with this important step of the decarbonisation journey. 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author only and are not necessarily given or endorsed by or on behalf of the Energy Institute.