Informing transitions in energy behavior

This blog post reports on work-in-progress within the DfG course! The post is written by one of the three groups dealing with the Ministry of Environment’s project brief on ‘Just transition to post-oil heating in homes’. The group includes Hsin-Yun Lai, Daniel Leiviskä, Anh Nguyen, and Emile Rebours.


Since our last blog post, we have had one more interview, learned about behavioural insights, and have started working on our proposal. We have continued to work completely remotely, using the online platform Miro to work together visually, utilising digital post-its, and various visual collaboration methods.

We interviewed ARA and found out that the financial support system doesn’t cover everyone to transition away from oil heating. Especially some people with low income don’t get enough or even any support. In our interviews with residents, we had already found out that people aren’t aware of all the financial support they could get, or of any official information channels related to the transition, getting information mostly from companies.

In addition, we learned about behavioural insights from the lectures, reading, and podcasts, and found a very relevant paper titled Household energy use: Applying behavioural economics to understand consumer decision-making and behaviour (Frederiks, Stenner & Hobman 2014). We found out that there are several mechanisms of behavioural economics that could be related to oil heating, and found especially the status quo bias and defaults very relevant. People aren’t actively choosing oil heating, but continue using it as their convenient default. Our proposal is disturbing this default, creating a trigger point for change, and a connection point for communication.

After finding the last pieces of the puzzle, we developed an intervention, in which we are trying to provide a turning point for the users of oil heating and a system for a just transition. We now continue working on our proposal, adjusting it with stakeholder feedback, and the final presentation, which will be presented remotely via Zoom in two weeks. We hope that with our proposal, and the information we have gathered and learned, we can bring some benefits to relevant stakeholders, and help promote a just transition toward carbon-neutral Finland.

Reference:

Elisha R. Frederiks, Karen Stenner, Elizabeth V. Hobman (2014) Household energy use: Applying behavioural economics to understand consumer decision-making and behaviour. Available at https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S1364032114007990?token=FB61E1A687EE47C7AB59EFF7F74E33DDBC7A1B2F6025E7C81A04115C4C3F1827E8C871B9DA4F63DB33D71BCBE61715BD


The DfG course runs for 14 weeks each spring – the 2020 course has now started and runs from 25 Feb to 19 May. It’s an advanced studio course in which students work in multidisciplinary teams to address project briefs commissioned by governmental ministries in Finland. The course proceeds through the spring as a series of teaching modules in which various research and design methods are applied to addressing the project briefs. Blog posts are written by student groups, in which they share news, experiences and insights from within the course activities and their project development. More information here about the DfG 2020 project briefs. Hold the date for the public finale 09:00-12:00 on Tuesday 19 May!

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