Community Energy Direct worked with 134 Year 5 and 6 pupils in two schools in York between November-December 2013 to provide a programme of eight sessions (a school assembly, six in-curriculum maths lessons and a final community/after school performance session). There were 2 classes participating in one school, and 2 classes participating in the other school.
The pupils in one school were provided with a clip-on energy monitor to monitor their
electricity use, as well as taking part in the lessons; these are highlighted in this report as
the IHD School. The pupils in the other school received exactly the same course of lessons
but did not receive an energy monitor; these are highlighted in this report as the Control
Behavioural hypotheses tested
An ‘Advice and Guidance’ and ‘Direct Feedback’ intervention, addressing barriers of:
- Energy literacy and knowledge of behaviour
- Beliefs about outcomes
- Social and household norms
Also tested the following factors referenced by the MINDSPACE behaviour change
- Messenger (information delivered as part of school curriculum)
- Affect (will parents’ behaviour be influenced more because they care about their
Fifteen families were also interviewed (sampled from the families of c.130 children from
four classes at the two schools that participated in the trial).
Extracts from Findings
The full DECC Report of the Project can be accessed here.
Parents of children involved in the project indicated that they did not generally look for energy saving advice and information as they were already aware of things they could do; they claimed their existing energy saving behaviour was relatively good. This existing energy saving behaviour was primarily linked to the objective of reducing on-going costs.
Following their child’s participation in an intervention, respondents did not necessarily identify
an increase in their knowledge, yet they did often indicate a greater relevance to their own lives (salience) resulting from energy saving behaviours. This centred on a better appreciation of the potential to achieve additional cost savings, related to actions the household could take including adjustments to the usage of different appliances within their home. Making cost savings (achieving salience, primarily in the eyes of the parent bill-payer) appeared to be the driving force behind the apparent claimed household changes in behaviour, rather than learning more about energy usage per se (increased knowledge, acquired directly by the children).
One parent also valued the increased knowledge that his child had gained which would
hopefully help in their energy saving:
“I don’t think I learnt anything that I wasn’t aware of. I think for him to learn that at school and to be aware of it increases our knowledge in the home of energy use… If you don’t know how much things are costing you… if you don’t have a monitor… you’re just not aware of really the impact of doing lots of things… like constantly leaving a light on in the house or forever using your tumble drier.”