Danish focus group delivers feedback on energy initiatives in the SURE! project

In October of 2016, a focus group was gathered to evaluate some of the energy initiatives in the SURE! project – specifically the energy dome, the energy binoculars and the energyscope website.

Four residents from the Danish housing association Beringsgaard participated in the focus group, during which they interacted with all the energy initiatives. They were thus invited inside the energy dome, got handed a pair of energy binoculars, saw the energyscope website on a tablet, and were given a sheet showing the 10 tips for lowering the energy consumption in their households.

The energy dome

Only one of the participants had visited the energy dome – which was placed in the central square of the housing association – prior to participating in the focus group. The others figured that it was something for the kids and had therefore not experienced the dome from the inside. As an interesting insight, one of the participants got a lot of information about the energy dome from the children playing around it in the yard. Apparently, the kids had visited the energyscope website and read about the initiative, teaching other residents about it.

The participants had a hard time relating their own energy consumption to the data shown in the energy dome. They would prefer if they could see their own energy consumption instead of the average energy consumption in the zone. On top of that, they would like to see their overall energy consumption, i.e. including electricity and all, and not just hot water usage as was displayed in the dome. At first, they did not mind their energy usage being public for people to see, but one participant did however express concern about how that could create disputes regarding the common expenses.

Overall, the participants felt that more transparency in their own consumption would have a larger impact on their energy usage. They proposed a website where one could see one’s own energy consumption compared to the average in the zone.

The energy binoculars

The energy binoculars were primarily distributed on the playground in the housing association and to some of the families with children, and only one participant had received a pair her mailbox. She opened them, but said that she was not the least bit curious, as she immediately saw that it was something she had to put together herself. Consequently, she deemed it more time consuming than interesting for her and her teen daughters. Upon being presented with the energy binoculars, the other participants felt the same way, but they believed that young children would probably find the energy binoculars very interesting.

The website and energy consumption tips

Only one participant had visited the website, which he found quite useful. When being showed the energy consumption tips, the participants did not come across any tips that they did not already know. However, not all tips were followed on a day-to-day basis due to the force of habits. For instance, tips on dishwashing were not followed, and there seemed to be some uncertainty about how, when and for how long you should vent out. All the participants said that they would visit the website after the interview – especially if it showed the energy consumption in their zone on a day-to-day basis.

Energy initiatives and energy consumption

All the participants were positive about the housing association’s participation in the project. The participants felt that it showed good intentions. By including the residents in the project and highlighting the energy consumption, the participants believed that it would be easier for the residents to accept changes in the rent due to the upcoming renovation. They believed transparency to be key – as one stated:

When you can see your consumption and see the changes, you are more willing to pay.