Households in Hungary cut energy consumption by up to a quarter through behavioural changes and community support
EnergyNeighbourhoods, a green lifestyle programme that empowers citizens to save energy announced as a finalist in the upcoming EU Sustainable Energy Awards.
“The EnergyNeighbourhoods programme helps citizens take action against climate change without any investment but by changing their everyday behavior,“ says Edina Vadovics, Scientific Director at GreenDependent Institute, the programme’s coordinator. “We help people change their lifestyles, save energy and reduce their carbon footprint, thus reducing their contribution to climate change.“
Communities across Hungary have shown that by making simple lifestyle changes, citizens can achieve average energy savings between 7-10% and in some cases up to 25%. Through the EnergyNeighbourhoods programme, community members come together with green living experts and identify areas where they can save energy at home, in a measurable way without compromising on their quality of life. Representing one third of the country’s final energy use, Hungarian households have a significant role to play in reducing the country’s carbon footprint and contributing to the climate goals.
Since the programme’s start in 2011, every EnergyNeighbourhood that has participated has been able to realise energy savings through behavioral changes alone with one community even reducing energy use by 55%. The programme also delivers important social benefits through savings on energy bills, which provides much-needed extra budget for household expenses and in some cases helping to lift citizens out of energy poverty.
“In the past 10 years, we have reached more than 5,000 people and 1,000 households in Hungary. We have trained more than 230 individuals to become so-called energy masters who work together with small communities,“ says Kristóf Vadovics, Executive Director of GreenDependent Institute.
Energy masters are recruited through social media and various networks, and then trained to provide expert guidance on how to make energy cuts through lifestyle changes that work for the households. These can include reducing hot water use, washing dishes or clothes in a more efficient manner or even more creative changes such as enjoying electronic-free entertainment. The community groups of 5-10 households gather their energy consumption data from previous years and conduct energy audits to measure their change in energy use and also their performance against other participating communities. Competing against other communities proves to yield positive results but also empowers participants knowing that they are not alone in taking action.
The programme, initially launched in 2011 with 15 other countries as part of a two-year EU-funded project under the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme (IEE), was so successful in Hungary that industry and experts came together to ensure its continuation. Since 2013, the programme has been funded by E.ON Hungary and coordinated by GreenDependent Institute, starting its 10th season in the autumn of 2021. Initiatives such as this one are bringing the EU closer to the 2030 targets.
Engaging European citizens in the energy transition
EnergyNeighbourhoods is one of three finalists shortlisted for the EU Sustainable Energy Awards 2021 in the Engagement category. The award recognises activities with high social acceptance potential, that inspire and motivate citizens to change their energy usage habits. The two other contenders in the engagement category include the projects COMPILE and TripleA-reno.
COMPILE is a project that helps to create energy communities integrated with renewable energy in Europe’s rural areas. TripleA-reno uses a performance evidence-based approach to make home renovations and resulting energy savings more attractive, acceptable and affordable for EU citizens.
EU Sustainable Energy Awards recognise champions of 2030 climate and energy targets
Twelve outstanding individuals and projects are highlighted at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) 2021 for their innovation in energy efficiency and renewables. Finalists were chosen from a list of the year’s most successful projects for clean, secure and efficient energy. The awards have four categories - Engagement, Innovation, Woman in Energy and Young Energy Trailblazer – as well as the Citizen’s Award, which will be received by one of the projects in the first two categories. Prizes will be awarded by an expert jury (for Engagement and Innovation), and by citizens via a public vote, which is now open until 22 October. The five winners will be announced on Monday 25 October during EUSEW 2021.
EUSEW 2021 runs from 25 to 29 October 2021, under the theme ‘Towards 2030: Reshaping the European Energy System’. Taking place ahead of the decisive COP 26, the event brings together energy policy experts, industry leaders, academia and civil society representatives to discuss how forward-looking policies for decarbonisation, energy efficiency, climate mitigation, and many others comprising the European Green Deal, can help rebuild a better and more resilient society and economy.
EUSEW 2021 is held as an online event once again, with more opportunities than ever to connect, engage, network and reflect on the biggest issues in clean energy in Europe and beyond.
Registrations for participants and for media are now open.
For interview requests with the EUSEW 2021 Award finalists or additional media information, please contact [email protected]