ECO2 (Energy Conscious Consumers) was a Horizon2020 funded project, active between March 2018 and August 2021.
The objective of ECO2 has been to help consumers in EU (and beyond) increase the awareness of their energy consumption and improve their energy efficiency. Consumers play a key role in the transition processes towards sustainable energy because it will take a long time before all energy produced will be sustainable. Until then, every time a consumer saves energy – no matter how little – it helps the energy system being a bit more sustainable. Therefore, ECO2 aimed at engaging and empowering them by enhancing their knowledge on how to decrease their energy consumption in their everyday lives and homes.
The main product of the ECO2 project is the energy efficiency e-learning platform Act4eco.eu. It provides 22 e-learning “actions” that can be used by citizens to gain the know-how that can help them plan and take decisions that will improve their energy efficiency.
The European Union is actively supporting innovative projects seeking to motivate citizens to take action in reducing their energy impact and consumption. ECO2 has had the honnor of being among these projects thereby contributing to a sustainable Europe.
Campaigns are not enough – we need know-how
For half a century, since the oil crises in the 1970’ies, consumers have been exposed to campaigns and persuations to lead them towards more energy efficiency. It has to some extend worked, but not enough. Surveys have shown that many citizens want to perform better and become more energy efficient. But many of them do not know what works, they are afraid of taking decisions that will surely be expensive, but may prove wrong and inefficient. They lack know-how.
The measures available to consumers to reduce their energy consumption have multiplied in the last decades. Simultaneously, the devices we use in our daily lives have become more energy efficient, but their number is increasing inside our homes. It helps little if we buy house equipment that use half the energy as the old ones, but we double the number of them. The imperative thus becomes learning how to consume energy wisely and preferably from sustainable energy sources.
Energy providers, the public and private sectors can do their part in the transition towards sustainable futures, but the individual energy consumer need to contribute too. By reducing the energy consumption of their houses and equipment, and also bu using the equipment less and more wisely. That demands know-how.
The ECO2 Project has built the ACT4ECO platform. It is an online platform that is independent, non-commercial, validated, multi-lingual and easy to use.
By following the learning actions in ACT4ECO, each user will climb the “ladder of change” from Motivation to Exploration and finally to Action. All actions are designed for these three steps. Also, all actions are designed, so that the consumer can stop when it is enough – for some it may be good to “learn everything”, and for others it is enough to understand the motivation, check a few action points and then step directly into action.
The platform guides users to take action in five important themes, each of them providing several e-learning actions:
- Produce your own energy: guiding consumers in evaluating if it is worth investing in small-scale energy generation, e.g. by providing information on the necessary technical requirements.
- Manage your energy consumption: helping users draw links between their daily routine activities and their energy consumption, e.g. by adopting small changes in behaviour that can bring significant improvements.
- Improve your house: limiting the carbon footprint of the house by improving its energy performance and investing in highly efficient technology options and appliances.
- Become a smart consumer: familiarizing users with options for controlling their energy consumption by correctly using and understanding ICT energy equipment.
- Sustain efficient energy use: avoiding the return to bad energy consumption habits.
Use it alone or in groups
Consumers can use it alone, as any other piece of information on the Internet. Or, they can choose to use it for group learning – maybe with other consumers in their street, maybe in a classroom, maybe arranged by an NGO or a library, or maybe online in webinars?? It is totally up to the user how one wants to use ACT4ECO.
The advantage of using it alone may be that one can choose excactly the e-learning action that is needed here and now. It may be to learn about changing windows in the house or isolating the house? The know-how achieved will increase the ability to talk with an architect or carpenter, so that exactly the right solutions will be chosen.
The same advantage comes from learning in a group, but other advantages come on top of it: The learning you get together with other people sticks better to your brain, it is more fun to be social than to be alone, you make new friends, and they may be good at convincing you to actually change your behaviour and begin to act.
After the end of the ECO2 Project
The final goal of ECO2 ´was to reach 1.000 consumers in each of 11 partner countries by the end of the project (August 2021), totalling 11.000 users for the platform. The project reached 13.000 and since then the user number has increased. Can we be satisfied then? No, of course not.
The project has established a so-called ECO2 Community of organisations that want to pursue the intention of expanding the platform – with regard to available content and with regard to the languages it is served in.
The ECO2 Community will seek options for exploiting the fantastic facility that ACT4ECO is by seeking collaborations with organisations, funders, authorities and others that might also want this platform to become even better in serving the European energy and climate transition, and maybe even to add other facets of sustainability to the platform.
If you want to know more about the ECO2 project please contact ECO2 Community coordinator Lars Klüver mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org