< Research Reports

Energy use in halls

Funded by Defra, we investigated the effectiveness of different approaches to encouraging positive energy saving behaviours in halls of residence.
group of students saving energy

Between 2009 and 2011, as NUS, we received funding from Defra to investigate the premise that individuals are more likely to adopt new habits during a period when they are undergoing a life transition and their habits are thereby disrupted.  The project aimed to test this theory through a set of interventions targeted at a sample of first year students, who are often living away from home for the first time, and focused on energy-efficient behaviours. The core of the project involved five interventions, implemented at five different universities.

The findings related to the drivers and barriers of energy saving behaviours and the impacts of the different interventions, generated the following suggestions for influencing behaviour:

  • Use multiple interventions in multiple contexts
  • Target interventions to the right moment of change
  • Design and locate information appropriately
  • Choose and train peer representatives carefully so that they engage well with their fellow students
  • Provide information early and dispel misperceptions
  • Target intrinsic and extrinsic values
  • Target ‘meaningful’ social groups
  • Structure incentives appropriately

Read full details of the action based research study along with more detailed recommendations in the final report.


Switch on to ‘switching off’: Innovative approaches for achieving energy efficient behaviours in universities - Final report