More than 300 European households participate in ENERGISE project to cut energy use
24 June 2019
ENERGISE (European Network for Research, Good Practice and Innovation for Sustainable Energy) will host the ‘ENERGISE Living Labs’ closing event in Ireland on June 27, which will present and discuss both high-level and local-level findings from the project
'The feedback from the majority of these participating households was positive with many stating that engaging in the ENERGISE Living Labs was enjoyable and helped them to reduce their energy use in the home.'
ENERGISE (European Network for Research, Good Practice and Innovation for Sustainable Energy) led by NUI Galway and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme will host the ‘ENERGISE Living Labs’ closing event in Ireland on June 27, which will present and discuss both high-level and local-level findings from the project. The results will have implications for policy makers at local, national and European level.
Includes 10 research partners
The ENERGISE consortium is co-ordinated by NUI Galway and includes 10 research partners (universities, research institutes, enterprises and NGOs).
The Living Labs were implemented in eight of the European partner countries including Ireland to develop, test and assess options for a bottom-up transformation of energy use in households and communities across Europe based on an assessment of more than 1,000 European sustainable energy initiatives and consultations with stakeholders.
In response to the increasingly urgent climate change challenge, as outlined in the recently released Climate Action Plan 2019, Ireland is promoting several climate and energy targets with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonising the economy.
Households playing a role in energy transitions
However, the current pace and scale of change is insufficient to achieve the necessary sustainability transitions in energy systems; there is an increasing realisation that meeting energy targets is highly dependent on households playing a role in energy transitions – which implies challenging social norms and habits around energy usage in the home.
More than 300 European households were involved in the ENERGISE Living Labs project from September to December 2018, and 38 of these households were based in Co Tipperary.
The households either took on the two main challenges (a laundry challenge to halve the number of laundry cycles they do every week; and a heating challenge to reduce the indoor temperature in their living-rooms to 18 degrees Celsius), or designed their own challenge (for example to reduce the temperature in their living room to 19 degrees Celsius.
High cost of climate change action
The measures and challenges that participants undertook were very low or no cost changes to practices, which is in contrast with current discussions about the high cost of climate change action.
The researchers from NUI Galway, with support from implementation partners Tipperary Energy Agency and Scoil Ruain, Killenaule, Thurles, Co Tipperary, guided households through the multi-method ENERGISE Living Lab process.
Dr Frances Fahy, ENERGISE project coordinator and senior lecturer in geography at NUI Galway, said: “The results to date indicate that the majority of all households participating across Europe managed to successfully reduce their average living temperature by at least one degree and overall our results have generated exciting new insights into social and cultural influences on household energy use, as well as advancing conversations about how we use energy in daily life opening up pathways to advance ideas of energy sufficiency.”
Dr Eimear Heaslip, postdoctoral researcher, ENERGISE project and researcher responsible for the implementation of the ENERGISE Living Labs in Co Tipperary, said: “The participating households varied in size and composition and had varying energy demands.
“The feedback from the majority of these participating households was positive with many stating that engaging in the ENERGISE Living Labs was enjoyable and helped them to reduce their energy use in the home.”
Project concludes in November 2019
ENERGISE Living Labs are now nearing the end of the project, which concludes in November 2019. Fieldwork and analysis from the Living Labs is now complete with over 300 households participating across eight European countries (38 of these are from Co Tipperary).
The €3.7 million ENERGISE project is one of the largest social science projects ever awarded to NUI Galway, funded through the European Horizon 2020 Research Programme and supported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
The ENERGISE closing event will take place on Thursday, June 27 at the Horse and Jockey Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary from 2.30pm-5pm (Session 1) and 5.30pm-8pm (Session 2).