Focus On - January 2011

GREEN HOMES: A programme to save energy by encouraging new habits

Households that followed this programme reduced their energy bill by 7%

Green Homes is an awareness raising programme designed to help citizens save energy at home. It has been developed by ALEM, the Local Management Energy Agency of Murcia within Murcia City Council and Emuasa, the Municipal Water Management Enterprise. In its initial phase the project focused on 130 families from the city of Murcia.

The objective of this programme is to make families aware of the impact of energy and water consumption on global warming and the world’s water resources and, as a result, to commit themselves to reduce consumption. In order to help families reach these goals, they were invited to participate in several workshops, where they learned about the different ways to save energy and water at home by merely changing daily habits. Participants received a saving kit with different gadgets, such as low consumption lamps, thermometers and anti-standby systems.

The programme’s initial objective was to reduce the energy consumption and green house gas emissions of these homes by 5.2% (the same value set by the signatories of the Kyoto Protocol).

Green HomesThe programme lasted for one year. During this time 5 different workshops were organised on various topics such as energy saving, water conservation, eco-driving and sustainable mobility. In the kick-off meeting, the participants received an energy and water consumption survey and their homes were audited. Through this data, a calculation was made of the current consumption and energy saving potential of each home. Specific guidelines were then given to each participant.

The workshops were scheduled in the first six months of the programme in order to give the participants time to get used to their new habits. The workshops were held in different neighbourhoods in the city of Murcia, so that participants could choose where and when to attend. This was a way to come closer to families and to encourage them to attend. The workshops provided help and advice on how to save energy, and were conducted in an informal and friendly environment where all the members of the family, including children, were invited to participate. The meetings usually lasted for 90 minutes. At the beginning of each workshop there was time set aside to share common positive and negative experiences. During the meetings the participants were encouraged to change three key aspects of their energy habits –  to feel, to know and to do:

  • Participants realised that even if sometimes you feel that your actions do not directly solve the global problems of climate change, the sum of small changes may change the world. We practice the widespread theory of “Think Globally & Act Locally!”.
  • Participants discussed the fact that sometimes they do not know if their actions were right or wrong. The programme helped them to correct their inefficient habits.
  • ALEM helped them to do, to act, and to reach their goals!

At the end of the programme, the energy bills of the participants were collected and the final energy saving was estimated. A final meeting was held to show the results of the programme to the families. The final outcome was successful and participants exceeded the initial fixed objectives as they achieved an average reduction of 7.1% in their energy bills in one year and 10.2% in water saving. The families expressed their satisfaction with the programme, especially its friendly dynamic and the opportunity it presented to meet new people.

We acknowledge the support of EPA, Public Institute for Water of Murcia and CENEAM, the National Environmental Education Centre, who helped the organisers develop the programme.

Interview with a family from Murcia enrolled in the programme:

Happy Murcia family who participated in Green HomesJuan Antonio Pallarés and Elisa Retamero - participants in the programme: “We have saved around €20 per month in our electricity bill. Not bad at all! It is nearly €250 a year!”

Elisa Retamero: “The programme was very interesting because I was able to share the lessons I learned with my work colleagues.”

Juan Antonio Pallarés: “They have shown us how to understand our electricity bill better and how to reduce the amount of energy we use”.

Juan Antonio and Elisa are a young couple that joined the Green Homes programme in Murcia. He is a sales manager and she is lawyer. They found it easy to get used to most of the new habits, such as turning off the light or turning off the TV completely in order to avoid the stand-by effect.

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