The EU project BARENERGY - Barriers for energy changes among end consumers and households - aims to identify the relevance and strengths of various barriers for energy behaviour changes among end consumers and households, and to discuss how activities from political authorities, energy producers and NGOs can overcome these barriers.
It will address changes in consumer behaviour along two dimensions. The first is energy saving and improvement of energy efficiency within households, the second is changes toward more sustainable and renewable energy technologies. It is also concerned about the relationship between these three strategies; turn down and switch off, the purchase of energyefficient appliances, and shift to (more) sustainable energy carriers.
Based upon the state of art six barriers to energy change among end consumers havebeen identified, ranking from macro to micro perspectives. It is worth noting that these barriers are closely related to each other, and can sometimes be difficult to separate. However, in an analytic discussion it is fruitful to distinguish between:
The project will particularly discuss the potential for change in relation to the windows of opportunities. The main idea behind this theory is that in everyday life it is difficult for consumers to change behaviour and habits, even if people are well informed and are motivated to do so. However, when people make certain fundamental changes in their life, they are susceptible for changes on other aspects as well. Windows of opportunities are not only created on the individual level, but also by political authorities and businesses.
The EU Green paper on energy efficiency provides the political point of departure. In doing more with less (COM (2005) 265 final of 22 June 2005), the Commission identifies three specific domains for energy policy measures: Buildings, Domestic appliances and Limiting the fuel consumption of vehicles. The project is limited to behaviour and barriers for changes among individuals and households in these domains.
It combines an individual and institutional approach. This means that individual and household energy behaviour and changes in this behaviour can only be understood by countries with a substantial variation in institutional structure considering individual values, attitudes, norms and knowledge among individuals together with the context in which this behaviour takes place. For this reason, countries with a substantial variation in institutional structure, such as variations in energy providers, were chosen.