Energy saving: it’s a social thing

A film to inspire communities to share practical experience on how to reduce energy bills.  (Duration: 14:30)

Public participants in the RECCKN project running events to engage a wider community on energy efficiency issues.  1. Energy Question Time.  2. Energy Question Time.  3. Energy Stall at Xmas fair.  4. Energy Coffee Morning.

The story…

When Keele University and the Marches Energy Agency started to research community knowledge about domestic energy saving and energy efficiency, they found that the discussion groups themselves were something that people wanted and needed.

The discussions revealed the large gap between the kinds of generalised independent information currently available online, and the level of detail that people need to make wise decisions in their own houses.  That gap is currently filled only by companies aiming to sell their own products.  There is nothing at community level to help people identify what may be useful, or to share their own practical experience with others in similar houses and circumstances.  The film offers practical ways to make it happen.  (If you have fast download, click ‘HD’ to watch it in 720 High Definition.)

In a nutshell

This public documentary shows people being inspired to take action on household energy efficiency as a result of (a) sharing ideas and experience with others they trust, (b) investigating their own electricity use with a monitor, and (c) engaging in dialogue with experts with new knowledge and confidence.

The interviewees were public participants in the RECCKN project, who live in four areas of Shrewsbury and Newcastle-under-Lyme.  Together, they counter UK policy assumptions that (i) people are not interested in energy efficiency, and (ii) that energy companies and installers offer the best means of enabling change.  They illustrate the benefits of exchanging ideas and experience on energy within communities and offer practical advice on making it happen.

There is a further documentary for institutions and policy-makers, Engaging communities on energy efficiency, based on interviews with the research team.

Interviews, distillation and video production by PublicSpace.  Commissioned by Keele University as part of the ESRC and EPSRC funded project: Reducing Energy Consumption through Community Knowledge Networks (RECCKN). The research was carried out in 2011-13 by Keele University and the Marches Energy Agency (team list below).

Video index

The core idea  00:00
The research project  00:53
Public frustration and the need to discuss energy  01:08
The value of sharing experience  03:48
Investigating personal energy use  05:40
Engaging others, speaking publicly: 4 examples  07:09
Making it happen across the UK  11:51
Making it work  13:13
Credits  14:00

University of Keele, Marches Energy Agency, EPSRC, ESRC.

Some review comments

Andrew Simms, Fellow at the New Economics Foundation, tweeted:  ‘Energy saving: it’s a social thing’ – a gentle, innovative and realistic community approach to tackling energy bills.

Tim Farron MP, Lib Dem Chair:  I’ve just looked at the video – it was really excellent.  Everyone else in the London office came over to look at it while I was playing it because it was so compelling.  The use of real human examples, and the quality of presentation really stood out!

Arild Foss, ESRC Digital Communications Manager:  I’ve watched the first video and it was very engaging.  … the people interviewed definitely made it engaging and made me watch throughout.

and from the RECCKN team:

Professor Andrew Dobson, RECCKN Principal Investigator:  This is absolutely brilliant!  It’s a marvellous distillation of everything we’ve done and found out.  Punchy, too.

Dr. Neil Simcock, RECCKN Research Associate:  I love it.  Flows very well, makes all the key points, seems to have a clear narrative.

Further information

RECCKN was one of seven interdisciplinary projects funded by the ESRC and EPSRC under their Energy and Communities collaborative venture.  Further information, a press release, articles and reports are available on the project website:

The team (2013):

Andrew Dobson, Professor of Politics and Principal Investigator on the project.
Mark Ormerod, Professor of Clean Technology within the Institute for the Environment, Physical Sciences and Applied Mathematics.
Dr. Zoe Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science.
Dr. Sherilyn MacGregor, Senior Lecturer in Politics.
Dr. Philip Catney, Senior Lecturer in Politics.
Simon Ross, Project Manager, Low Carbon Communities Team at Marches Energy Agency.
Dr. Neil Simcock, Research Associate, now working at Lancaster University.

PublicSpace Director Dr Simon Pardoe worked closely with the research team to identify and distil the publicly-relevant findings, and to present them though the language and experience of the participants.

If you would like to embed the video, contact PublicSpace.

Video credits:

Development and Interviews: Dr. Simon Pardoe
Pre-production liaison with Dr. Neil Simcock
Cinematography: Matthew Dentus, Lisa Cazzato
Production support: Alan Golding
Post-production discussion with Dr. Neil Simcock and Dr. Sherilyn MacGregor
Music: Pavel Kazankov (ebunny) and Joel Hunger
Filmed on location at Keele University and in Shrewsbury and Newcastle-under-Lyme
Produced, Directed and Edited by Dr. Simon Pardoe

With huge thanks to all the contributors.

Announcements and links included:

Keele University news, Science Daily,, Alpha Galileo,, Climate Northern Ireland,