Behaviour change

Behaviour change is an important part of many community energy and energy efficiency programmes, helping people to save energy at zero cost, better understand and operate heating and energy systems and adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

This section focuses on how communities can encourage people to change their behaviour to reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs.

Community groups can be well placed to influence behaviour around energy use as they can provide a trusted and impartial local voice on energy issues as well as being able to engage people face to face and through local networks.

The links you will find on this page provide information on approaches to behaviour change that have been used successfully in the past as well as presenting some of the science behind those techniques. These resources can help you to choose the approach that will be most effective in your community.

Useful for:

  • Community groups working on behaviour change projects
  • Community social enterprises
  • Local authorities working on community projects

Energy action or 'peer support' groups

This approach uses social interaction, gentle competition and support to take small groups of people on a journey of education and behaviour change, either be through a self- or externally-facilitated process. This approach is sometimes called ‘peer group support’ as it uses the psychology of peer group behaviour to encourage behaviour change.

Useful for:

Groups of people that are already established and know each other (but are not necessarily already engaged with energy and the environment).

Download the full ‘Energy action peer support groups’ module of the Community Energy Efficiency Toolkit.

Further Information

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have developed a paper that draws on new evidence from behavioural economics and psychology to outline a new approach to enabling people to reduce their energy consumption at home and work.

Useful information on the EVALOC project has been made available which includes content on behaviour change activity through community projects. This was a collaboration between researchers from the Low Carbon Building Group at Oxford Brookes University and the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.

Several toolkits are available to help groups wanting to try the peer support group approach to sustainable behaviour change:

  • Manorhouse PACT works with EcoActive to support groups in London through its Closer Neighbours initiative.
  • The South West Diocese of the Church of England has produced Carbon Fast 40 day challenge resources to support churches wanting to engage their congregations on climate change action.
  • Transition Town Totnes has developed a 'Transition Streets' approach to peer group support on behaviour change.


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