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					       Energy and Communities Projects’ Meeting, Keele University
                          21st March 2012

Reducing Energy Consumption Through
  Community Knowledge Networks
    Keele University and Marches Energy Agency

    Andrew Dobson, Phil Catney, Sarah Marie Hall, Sarah Hards,
   Sherilyn MacGregor, Mark Ormerod, Zoe Robinson, Simon Ross
Research Context
• UK energy policy focus on individuals
• Role of social interactions, contexts and norms in shaping
  practices neglected (Shove 2010)
• Emerging role of community in energy reduction
• Previous focus on renewable energy generation
• Communities - sites and spaces for the negotiation and
  dissemination of knowledge about energy
• Effects of these processes on energy consumption
• RECCKN aims to address gaps by exploring the role of
  community knowledge networks in energy practices
Research Questions
• Does knowledge about energy consumption / reduction travel
  within community networks? If so, how?
• What are the roles of different actors/organisations/channels
  in disseminating this knowledge?
• What are the barriers to energy-saving?
• What pre-existing forms of knowledge exist about energy?
  How can this help or hinder efforts to reduce energy
• How do all these processes vary between different
• What lessons can we learn for policy and practice?
• How can we research community knowledge networks?
Conceptual Background
- Can be defined in many ways
- We adopt a loosely geographical approach

-   Is different to information
-   Can be tacit, procedural, embedded, sticky and “practised”

Community Knowledge Networks
-   A concept we are developing and exploring;
         “the constellation of people, organisations, material objects,
         information, practices and relations through which knowledge
         is shared and articulated within communities and between their
Research Design
• Two field sites: Newcastle-under-Lyme and Shrewsbury
• Community advisory groups (CAGs) established
• Recruiting fifteen households from two geographically distinct
  areas in each town (sixty in total)
• Households will participant from April ‘12 - April ’13

Home Audit Interviews   April-May 2012, baseline data on hh’s and energy use
Record Box              Store information received on energy during project
EDM                     Measure electricity use for the duration of the project
Intervention 1          Leaflet detailing sources for further info about energy use
Focus Group Meetings    3 focus groups with representatives from the 15 hh’s
Intervention 2          Other ways of receiving information about energy use
Evaluation              Recruit a further 15 households across each community
Methodological Challenges (1)
- ‘Hard to reach’ are also hard to recruit
- ‘Switched on’ communities – difficult to
  penetrate beyond familiar groups and faces
- Obstacles: length of project, energy literacy, attending
  focus groups, money not always an incentive, not all hh
  members want to participate, privacy of home setting
- Comparable experiences: recruitment easier with face-
  to-face interaction, local businesses not as effective
Methodological Challenges (2)
Energy display monitors
- To measure hh electricity consumption over project course,
  and incentive for hh’s to participate
- Difficulties in finding a monitor that meets our requirement:
     -   Hold 1 years’ worth of data
     -   Data can be extracted easily from the device
     -   Data can be uploaded from 60 devices into software
     -   Cost c£50
- Models we have investigated so far:
     - Current Costs (EnviR): difficulties extracting data from 1 device, in a
       useable form, would need to develop software to hold x60
     - Owl+USB: only holds data for 30 days, anything beyond is irretrievable
     - Eco-eye Smart: memory card, can hold over 100 days of data (2
       ordered to trial)
Methodological Successes
• Use of CAGs
• Use of certain gatekeepers
• Use of face-to-face recruitment
• Focus on money-saving in Newcastle
• Focus on community networking and energy
  knowledge in Shrewsbury
• Keen householders for audit piloting in
• Network mapping tool with CAG
→Positive experiences – CAG meetings and relations,
 mapping exercise
→Challenges – recruiting households, choosing an EDM
 that meets our needs
→Our next challenge is how to gather data on different
 forms of knowledge
→Some of these challenges are often linked with
 participatory and community-centred approaches
→We have adopted a flexible and evolving
 methodology in response to these

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