Europeans and energy efficiency - Harris Interactive survey for SPIE*
- Europeans are committed and expect real action: Put a stop to waste!
- Rallying around energy efficiency: Individuals and local authorities in the
- Biggest lever to boost energy efficiency: Making savings!
- Europeans are banking on technical progress and the involvement of people
- European "COP21-sceptics"?
Cergy, 24 November 2015 – As France prepares to host the United Nations climate change conference in Paris (COP 21) in December, SPIE Group, the European leader in multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, has published a European(1) survey of the general public’s awareness and perception of energy efficiency and COP21.
Europeans with varying levels of awareness but showing personal commitment
Public awareness of COP21 naturally varies from country to country: 78% of French people say they have heard of it, compared with 59% of Germans, 45% of Belgians, 37% of the Dutch and 34% of the British. Of those Europeans, 50% of French people claim they know exactly what this conference is all about compared with 30% of Germans, 20% of Belgians, 26% of the Dutch and 19% of British people.
For the majority of Europeans, this is a major event, which will help generate joint impetus, mobilise countries on the topic of climate change, promote the dissemination of information on this subject and boost public awareness. Most people also say they are personally interested in this initiative. However, apart from in Belgium, only a minority think it will really change things and provide practical solutions.
Energy efficiency: putting a stop to waste!
Most French people (68%), Belgians (68%) and Dutch (60%) say they have heard of energy efficiency. That is a fairly high level of awareness, even though only a minority of people in France and Belgium claim to know exactly what that entails (20% and 18%, respectively) and about one-third of people have never heard of energy efficiency in those countries. Energy efficiency appears to be much better known in Germany (92% in total, 43% of whom actually claim to know exactly what it is all about) and, above all, in the United Kingdom (where the figures are 94% and precisely 70%, respectively).
Europeans spontaneously associate energy efficiency with insulation and, to a lesser extent, solar power, energy-efficient equipment and smart energy management systems. And when they are shown a list of items representing energy efficiency, the idea that it is a matter of preventing waste is the first thing mentioned by all Europeans, whether they be in France (52%), Germany (52%), Belgium (52%), the Netherlands (46%) or the UK (60%).
Europeans focused on reducing energy consumption
In all the participating countries, more than 8 out of 10 people say they are careful about reducing energy consumption in their homes: 85% in the Netherlands, 88% in the UK, 91% in Belgium and as many as 95% in France and Germany. In regards to public places, most Belgians and French say they are careful (71% and 69% respectively) whereas the other nationalities appear to be more circumspect (from 49% in the Netherlands to 55% in the UK). Logically enough, the more directly a location falls within their scope of action, the more people say they take care with energy consumption. The survey found that, in fact, in all the countries, property owners and people in households with an average income are more careful with their energy consumption.
Ideal heating temperature?
In all the aforementioned countries, most people think that heating is too high in shops, particularly in France (67%), Germany (62%), and Belgium (60%) and to a less degree in the UK (54%) and the Netherlands (49%) – but that their homes are heated to the right temperature (78% of the Dutch, 70% of the French, 69% of Germans, 66% of Belgians and 56% of the British).
A vast majority of the individuals surveyed thought the ideal indoor temperature was above 19°C (64% in the UK, 68% in the Netherlands, 79% in Belgium and as many as 85% in Germany). To be even more specific, nearly one-third of Europeans (32%) thought the ideal heating temperature was 20°C and an average of 21% said 21°C. It was also noted that 21% of Germans and 15% of Belgians said 22°C was ideal. However, they all said they were willing to go along with recommendations in this matter, and more so in the workplace than at home.
Rallying around energy efficiency: Individuals and local authorities in the forefront
While most Belgians (52%), Dutch (51%) and British (45%) consider that their countries are about average when it comes to progress on energy efficiency, the Germans believe that they are in the lead (52%) and the French think they are lagging behind (51%).
In all cases, individuals who think their country is lagging behind generally blame that situation on a lack of political will to make energy efficiency a priority: 84% in the UK, 86% in the Netherlands and as many as 91% in Belgium, 93% in Germany and 94% in France.
In all the respective countries, individuals and local authorities are seen as the players that are the most committed to energy efficiency, ahead of businesses and, especially, ahead of the State and its administrations (which are considered to be mobilised only by a minority in most countries). The French are differentiated by the fact that they say that local authorities are more mobilised than other players, whereas the British tend to cite each player.
Making savings: the main motivational lever for energy efficiency measures
In all the respective countries, when participants are asked about which factors might encourage them to modify their behaviour in order to make savings, the most frequent answer is their "energy bills are too high" (from 85% in the Netherlands to 93% in Belgium). Then there is the opportunity of receiving tax benefits, though that point was less often mentioned by the British (75%) than by other Europeans: 92% in Belgium, 90% in France, 89% in Germany and 81% in the Netherlands.
Other motivational factors are environmental, in particular, people’s desire to reduce pollution in their vicinity (from 89% in France to 73% in the Netherlands) and to ascertain a level of environmental awareness (from 85% in France to 73% in the UK).
To cut energy consumption in buildings, Europeans talk about improving insulation – especially in France (62%) and Belgium (57%) but less so in the Netherlands (43%), installing energy saving systems – especially in the UK and Germany (both 53%) but less so in Belgium (44%), and raising user awareness – especially in the Netherlands (53%) but less so in the UK (41%).
In favour of technical progress... and a radical change in lifestyle
Among the various ways of optimising and reducing energy consumption that were offered to them, more than nine Europeans out of 10 feel that emphasis should be placed on furthering technical progress (between 91% in Germany and 95% in France) and encouraging all citizens to take energy-saving steps in their everyday lives (between 87% in the Netherlands and 94% in France). To a lesser extent, these countries believe that regulations should be relaxed and tax incentives should be offered (between 73% in the UK and 85% in France).
"A great deal of information, some of it very encouraging, can be drawn from this wide-ranging survey: Europeans’ commitment to energy efficiency, their optimism regarding the part played by technology, and their belief that individuals and local authorities are at the forefront when it comes to taking action, and so on," points out Gauthier Louette, SPIE’s chairman and CEO. "But the common thread seems to be a certain pragmatism. ‘Yes’ to technical progress, ‘yes’ to energy efficiency, provided that actually leads to real savings. That is in line with our approach, offering local services to all our customers, especially local authorities that want to provide the better services at lower costs to citizens."
He goes on to conclude: "The consequences of inaction would be dramatic and the price to pay would be high. And it would be all the more irresponsible because there are already a great many solutions available and we can see that society’s motivation and increasing awareness provide an excellent springboard for quick action to be taken in Europe."
(1)In this press release, the term "Europeans" specifically refers to nationals within scope of the survey, namely French, German, Belgian, Dutch and British
*Harris Interactive survey for SPIE. Polls conducted by internet between October 7 and 15, 2015. Representative national samples of 1,000 people in each of the following countries: France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. Quota sampling and adjustment methods applied on the basis of the following variables: gender, age, social-professional category (in France) or income level (in other countries) and region of residence.