Energy efficiency

Communities are well-placed to address some aspects of home energy efficiency that commercial and government agencies find very difficult:

  • Identifying people in greatest need of help
  • Gaining access to people’s homes to provide advice
  • Building trusted relationships to support an understanding of personal and household energy use and behaviour change.

Communities can have strong local connections, which puts them in a good position to influence the uptake of energy efficiency measures and behaviour change. They can also add value to large-scale schemes seeking to install energy-saving measures such as insulation.

The role your community organisation plays will depend on the needs of your community, what you aim to achieve, what skills and resources you have at your disposal and whether any related activity is happening in your area.

Some of the best community energy efficiency projects combine several different, complementary activities to take their audiences on a journey towards installing energy efficiency measures and adopting energy efficient behaviours. What activities you choose to deliver will depend on what particular aims you wish to achieve and who your audience is. Based on the experiences of 11 community projects working under the Big Lottery Communities Living Sustainably programme Energy Saving Trust has developed the matrix below to help you choose activities for your project and a toolkit of resources to help you deliver them.

  • Awareness-raising
  • Advice surgeries 
  • Demonstration homes and open eco-homes
  • Home advice visits
  • Training and education
  • Energy action peer support groups 

An energy-efficient retrofit of a community-building is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing bills, reducing carbon emissions and engaging with the community on energy-related issues.

Monitoring and evaluation

When planning an energy efficiency project it's useful to understand what type of housing is common in your area, and anything you can about the people who live in your area (e.g. average age, income etc.) so that you can focus on energy efficiency measures that will be relevant to local people. This will also give you a baseline from which to measure your impact.

You should consider how you will monitor progress and evaluate impact of your project from the start. To secure funding and carry out business planning you will need both evidence of your achievements to support bids and also be able to project what you might achieve with given activities and resources.

Further useful information

Carbon Coop has produced a Retrofit Factfile and a series of retrofit webinars

NEA has a Technical Consultancy 


The NEA Technical Innovation Fund has 46 case studies

CSE provides a list of online sources of information on saving energy across your community and they created the Futureproof website with an interactive planning tool

Paul Testa helps you How to choose the right Structural Engineer for your project

BHESCo's Energy Efficiency Special Panel Debate

York Community Energy's webinar

Energy Saving Trust gives details of an LED lighting field trial

The UK government has collected national carbon dioxide emissions data by local authority area. This can help you to better understand energy use in your area.