Who: In partnership with British Gas, EDF Energy, npower, and Green Energy
What: Energy
Where: UK-wide

The Challenge

How do you mobilize over 4,000 households to cut their energy consumption? Consumers are desperate for energy companies to help them lower their bills. But it can be hard to persuade people to take those everyday actions that help keep costs down, like turning off the lights when you leave the room.

How we helped

In 2014, four of Britain’s energy companies took part in a project to educate consumers about saving energy. The Big Energy Race is an initiative that promotes energy efficiency by challenging communities across the country to change how they use energy at home.

On average, The Big Energy Race saved the most engaged participants up to £117 each on their bills. So, how did the project work?

  • Local people for local messaging - a crack team of community leaders went out and talked to households in their areas, and set them challenges to get them thinking differently about energy use. These champions used their knowledge of their community to promote the project more effectively. For example, one group set up a stall in their local Asda to recruit shoppers.

  • A well-resourced initiative - champions had supporting materials to help them get people on board. This included an “information hub”, or online resource that people could visit to find out how to make informed choices about the energy they consume.

  • Taking it step-by-step – the competition set participants energy saving tasks - small, everyday actions, like turning off the TV or taking shorter showers - that anyone could take without making drastic changes to their lifestyles. Breaking it down into easy steps made the actions feel more achievable.

  • A trusted brand – the partnership of recognized energy providers, an environmental charity, and local champions proved to be a killer combination. Seeing the different partners working together inspired trust in the communities we were trying to reach out to.

  • The spirit of competition – giving communities the chance to work together towards a shared goal helped persuade people who don’t normally take action on the environment to get involved.

  • A little incentive - Participants received points for every challenge they completed, which made the normally – let’s face it – somewhat boring task of doing things like turning the lights off a lot more fun. And the prize – £20k for the winners to invest in their community – probably provided an added incentive for people to take part!

The competition was fierce, but in the end Lancashire-based Community Interest Company LESS cinched the prize. They’ll be using the money to fund a team of 15 volunteers, who will give energy advice to 200 households across North Lancashire.

Impact

    • 39 community champions persuaded over 4,000 households to take on 9,000 energy saving challenges.
    • Of the community champions, 59% did not come from environmental groups. This meant that we were able to reach people who don’t normally get involved with environmental campaigning.
    • £117 per person saved on energy bills for the most engaged participants – that’s 484,259 kilowatt hours (kwh) or 239,349kg in CO2 emissions.
    • 90% of participants said they’ll keep up the good work, by continuing their energy-saving behaviours in future.


What’s next? 

Global Action Plan hopes to launch the next Big Energy Race in early 2016, with a new improved website, double the number of community champions, and a target of 8,000 households participating.

Want to know more?

Read the Big Energy Race report.