- Buildings Guide
- Policy Guide
- Appliances Guide
Energy consumption is normally invisible, as are the manifold opportunities to save energy through energy-efficient appliances. Policy must use intelligent instruments to convey focused information on these opportunities and their benefits to energy end users but also other actors including sales staff in appliance retail. To induce concrete action, the information must also clearly say what one can do to reap those benefits.
Energy efficiency is not only a matter of technology. It is also necessary to take into account energy issues during the choice of products and the buying decision to choose or not to choose an energy efficient product. The provision of information has the chance to raise awareness towards the issue of energy efficiency and to inform on energy-efficient appliances. Additionally, they give motivation to consider energy efficiency when using electric domestic appliances.
Information and awareness-raising tools and public communication campaigns are used in many countries worldwide to promote energy-efficient appliances and their efficient use. Focused information brings market transparency and encourages consumers to take action. The best basis for such information is a mandatory comparative energy label or, if that does not exist, a voluntary energy efficiency endorsement label. The approaches to promoting energy efficiency in appliances are often based on social marketing techniques, which are customer-oriented and use the concepts and tools of commercial marketing and advertising companies. Typically, most awareness and benefit campaigns are designed and implemented by government agencies but also by local authorities, energy companies, or NGOs. Frequently used channels are TV (also in the less developed countries) and the internet (in more developed countries). Calculation tools for energy and (net) cost savings (also online, such as CO2online (explore the policy guide and find our detailed description) and online databases for energy-efficient appliances such as TopTen (explore the policy guide and find our detailed description) are central tools to inform customers about the energy consumption of products. Other tools used to educate people are information centres offering individual advice and energy audits (for big consumers). In this dossier, all tools will be described under the same title “Provision of information”.
All of the tools to increase awareness towards efficient technologies and an efficient use of the appliances can target manufacturers, retailers or consumers. They are crucial in accompanying other policy instruments such as labels or subsidy programmes, but can also be used as standalone instruments (Attali 2009).
Public awareness, information and benefit campaigns constitute an important element to support energy efficiency and to promote energy efficiency policies and programmes. Changes in purchasing behaviour can increase market share of the most energy-efficient appliances significantly. However, the impact of information instruments alone may be limited and might be improved a lot by temporal financial incentives in addition to information instruments (up to more than 50 percent of market share by the most energy-efficient classes of appliances).
Changes in user behaviour induced by intelligent information and feedback instruments can lead to significant energy savings of typically 10 to 15 percent and can even be as high as up to approximately 20 percent. The savings stem from changes in energy conservation, lifestyle, awareness, low-cost action, and small investments (Mikkonen 2010).
The aim of information instruments on energy efficiency is to inform consumers in a way that they can contribute to, and benefit from, improved efficiency simply through their purchasing or user behaviour.
Retail sales staff and other supply chain actors should also be involved in order not to send conflicting messages to consumers.
Worldwide implementation status
Policies to inform people about energy efficient technologies were implemented in several countries and are widespread all over the world. For example in earlier years, there were broad campaigns to promote environment-friendly purchases i.e. education for consumption in Mexico, consumption and environment in Denmark, eco-buyer campaign in Finland, green purchasing network in Japan, consumer pledge for sustainable consumption in Korea etc (OECD 2008). Furthermore there are already several calculation tools available like CO2online, Topten and information centres like ADEME (France) and UK EST.
It can be an international, national and regional policy. The policy was mostly implemented on national or regional level.
The foci of this policy are residential and office appliances, and appliances in public buildings.
Often the use of communicative instruments for motivation and information alone does not suffice. Given results of needs assessment and the mix of prevailing energy efficiency barriers, communicative instruments will need to be combined with other types of instruments. For example, if major economic barriers prevail preventing consumer action, different financial instruments may be necessary. These can also be seen as strong instruments to create awareness of the existence and benefits of very energy-efficient appliances. Measures may be needed to ensure availability of the energy-efficient appliances promoted by an information campaign in the shops and that consumers can identify them. This can be done e.g. by co-operation with manufacturers and retailers in the preparation of a campaign.
Energy labels are the best basis for information instruments, as they enable the easy communication of which the most energy-efficient appliances are and, equally important, enable consumers to identify them in the shop. On the other hand, to implement a successful energy label, information campaigns are necessary to inform consumers about the purpose and advantages of the labelling scheme.
Finally, when information and other policies and measures have been successful in shifting the market to higher energy efficiencies, minimum energy performance standards will be able to secure the energy efficiency levels achieved by removing the least efficient models from the market.
According to the wide range of different policies to provide information, it is difficult to explain the pre-conditions. All of these policies and measures have a commonality that they need actors to implement and control the policy and a funding scheme to finance the measure.
Agencies or other actors responsible for implementation
Agencies are necessary to implement the policy. There is a wide range of different policies with different possible actor constellations and responsible persons. Usually, public energy agencies play a main role. For this type of policy, however, local authorities, energy companies, NGOs, and other actors can be the implementing agency as well.
Funding schemes are necessary to finance the policy. Some policies, like small online campaigns can be implemented with low costs. On the other hand, large-scale information campaigns can be very cost-intensive.
Research, planning, targeting, using different tools, and sustaining the scheme over a reasonable period until results are achieved are the key ingredients in successful information campaigns (OECD 2008). After the background research is done, the best channels to reach the target groups can be identified. Key questions in the preparation of a campaign plan are: What kind of action by end users and or supply chain actors do I target? What (else) do they need to be successful with this action? What will be done in the campaign? Who is responsible for doing it? How much will it cost? How long will it take? What will I deliver? Effective campaigns typically operate following a strategic plan with the following steps: Setting the programme goals in line with policy goals, analysing the determinants of desired behavioural change, market segmentation and choice of target groups, choice of instruments, planning the organisation and management, risk analysis and back-up plan, programme testing and pilot campaign, planning the resources, and planning the monitoring and evaluation.
To implement a successful instrument it is important to include innovative elements. Examples of innovative elements are the use of new social medial such as Facebook, Twitter or Youtube (US), road-shows to supplement TV when not everyone has access to it (South Africa), shower head demonstration on beaches (South Africa), video contest (US), use of “social” workers (Cuba) etc. (Mikkonen et al., 2010). Applications for ‘smartphones’ may also be an innovative route to communicate information today and in the future.
Information tools can and should have a quantified target. However, it may not be feasible to set an energy savings target for them separately as part of a policy package. Rather, the target could be on indicators of success in reaching a high number of consumers and other market actors with the information and in recipients taking the desired energy efficiency action.
Co-operations of countries
Several countries worldwide have already introduced measures to provide information about energy efficiency. Therefore co-operations are helpful for countries, which plan to implement a campaign or similar measures. Furthermore, for example; online tools are often used by consumers from different countries at the same time, or are easy to translate and transfer.
Monitoring serves two objectives in campaign implementation. It provides feedback to campaign management to allow effective control. Monitoring can be used to provide the programme management information on the success of the campaign as well, to allow correct and prompt action if necessary to ensure that programme goals are achieved. Also the needs of the target group i.e. the consumers or other end-users can be monitored by asking them questions about how they perceive a campaign or tool, what energy efficiency action they took, and what barriers they experienced from it. This is typically done by conducting a feedback survey with campaign-related questions. These surveys are often based on telephone calls, postal questionnaires or web-based elements. An effective tool in helping to reach the programme goals is to establish performance indicators, which can be monitored during programme implementation.
Typical performance indicators for information instruments are the number of materials distributed, web-site visitors, event participants, TV campaign viewers, numbers of installations etc. (Mikkonen et al 2010).
An indicator for monitoring the change of energy efficiency levels in the market are sales figures per energy label category for a given type of appliance.
Two types of evaluation and evaluation objectives can be identified. Process evaluation is a systematic assessment of the campaign for the purpose of improving its design, its delivery, and the usefulness of the quality of services delivered to the consumer.
Impact evaluation examines the effect/outcome (changes of behaviour, energy savings and CO2 emission reduction). It is important to give adequate consideration to the various aspects of evaluation already in the campaign or tool design.
However, there may – and should – be a package of instruments targeting energy efficiency of appliances (see above). Therefore, monitoring and evaluating the impact on energy savings via e.g. sales figures per energy label category will not only reflect the impact of the information instruments but also the labelling scheme itself. Whether it will be useful and possible to attribute shares of the overall impact to individual instruments such as an information campaign, will need to be assessed.
Other sustainability aspects and environmental impacts can (and should) be part of an information or education campaign e.g. health aspects or other resources such as water and detergents.
The following barriers are possible during the implementation of the policy:
Barriers for the implementation of these type of instruments are mainly the potential general weaknesses of information tools, including low levels of consumer awareness, criteria differences across campaigns and products, market competitions between different criteria. Obtaining funding for the implementation and continuation of an information tool, centre, or campaign can also be a major barrier.
The following measures can be undertaken to overcome the barriers:
Factors, which make campaigns more successful, are the combinations with other political measures like energy labelling schemes or financial incentives.
There are a lack of studies on the impact of awareness raising and information instruments. The scientific literature provides only little information on the potential of these activities. There are the general problems of (1) monitoring energy efficiency action taken by the target groups as a consequence of the information and (2) the difficulty of attributing energy savings to these instruments. That they are part of an overall package may explain this fact.
Therefore actual impacts or benefit-cost ratios are very difficult to assess in campaigns aiming to change appliance purchasing or usage behaviour. Changes in purchasing behaviour can increase the market share of the most energy-efficient appliances significantly. However, the impact of information instruments alone might be limited and may be improved a lot (up to more than 50 % of market share by the most energy-efficient classes of appliances) by temporal financial incentives in addition to information instruments.
Changes in user behaviour induced by intelligent information and feedback instruments can lead to significant energy savings of typically 10 to 15 % and can even be as high as up to approximately 20%. The savings stem from changes in energy conservation, lifestyle, awareness, low-cost action, and small investments (Mikkonen 2010).
The costs differ significantly depending on the size of the campaign, the duration and the target group.
Well designed and focused information and motivation instruments and campaigns can have good results and benefit-cost ratios at relatively low absolute costs. On the other hand, badly designed and implemented campaigns can cost a lot of money without good results. But even the impact of successful information campaigns can be enhanced with some financial incentive to buy the most energy-efficient appliance.
In effect, the benefit-cost ratio of such combined financial incentive and information schemes may be higher than that of information schemes alone, and the absolute amount of energy savings and net economic benefits as well.
Type: Provision of targeted information
|European Union (EU), China, United States|
Chinese National Improved Stove Programme
Type: Financial incentives
Type: Financial incentives