OverviewWhat can citizens do to reduce energy usage

There are many ways that citizens can make changes to their homes in order to reduce energy usage. Some options are low cost but many of the more significant changes do need a lot of financial resources. For many citizens the larger home renovation tasks are far too expensive to be possible on an individual level, but there are ways that citizens can pool together to access more funding, grants and resources to make the changes possible.

Low cost activities

Everyone can do these things at home: Turn off plugs that you aren’t using; lower your thermostat; make sure you have draught-proofing - checking under doors and around windows for drafts and covering these as best you can; put rugs down on bare floorboards to reduce under floor draft. Some resources to help you:

Time and resource investment activities

Deep retro-fit is the most effective way of reducing your energy consumption. Whilst there are ways to reduce costs if you do the work yourself, this type of work can end up being costly and time intensive.

What are your options?

If you live in council owned-property, social housing or housing managed by a housing association you should ask your property manager to seek funding to invest in making the entire housing block more energy efficient. In many countries, government legislation is already in place to provide funding pathways for this work. If you do the research it is much harder for your building manager to refuse this request. Getting other residents on board can also be an effective way of pushing for these changes. Such an investment will not only reduce your energy bill but it will also mean you are using less energy for heating and cooling your home.

If you are an individual homeowner, you may be in a position to invest the time and resources that are needed to do this work. For example, you could explore expanding your mortgage to finance this work. Each country will have different funding schemes available, so it is always worth researching the different grants that may be accessible. There are many youtube videos, blogs, short courses and organisations available that can help you with your project.

Nevertheless, we know that this is costly and many homeowners do not have the disposable income or time to undertake such projects. In these instances, it can be a good idea to form a collective, community group or cooperative to help finance these projects - not just for your home but for others in the area. See point 3 to learn more.

Higher impact activities

As we mentioned, reducing energy use is a key part of the energy transition and supports the move to a full renewable energy system. For many people option 1 will not go far enough, and option 2 will not be affordable. Across Europe, many citizens have formed community groups/ projects and/or cooperatives, as a way of financing the costly retro-fit work that needs to happen as part of the energy transition. Working as a group you can support each other to learn more about the topic, get funding, and have more security than an individual trying to undertake the project.

For more support on setting up a local group, check out our step-by-step suggestion for a process that you could use or amend to suit your purposes.