In partnership with Forum for the Future, we built an unprecedented collaboration of brands and civil society organisations to work together to help households take control of their energy bills and offer them a range of practical ways to take action.
We commissioned qualitative research, backed up by successive quantitative studies, to gain new insight into home energy use. This showed that energy bills had become the number 1 financial concern for households. However, two thirds think there’s nothing they can do about them – it’s a problem that’s beyond their control and they don’t know where to turn for help. This feeling of powerlessness is compounded by a lack of trust in businesses in the sector and the arguments about energy bills that they see dominating the media and politics.
Energy bills are the number 1 financial concern for households but 2/3 of people think there’s nothing they can do about them
The big missing link in this narrative was energy efficiency – simple solutions which can start today and are the only long term solutions to controlling bills. But it was an area dogged by miss-selling, apathy and overused, uninspiring language. New thinking was required to create a step change in engagement with energy efficiency solutions, shifting people from “I can’t do anything about my energy bills” to “I will do something”.
We brought together an unprecedented collaboration of key players in home energy efficiency, including consumer brands like B&Q and Argos, charities like Trustmark and Groundwork, and the energy industry, to co-create a solution. Together we developed new, compelling language which linked the motivator for households (high bills) with the solutions (using, wasting and paying less).
The collaboration was launched in 2014 as the Big Energy Vision, with partners committing to:
- Highlight and promote the practical things people can do to control their energy bills through using, wasting and paying less
- Help people link energy control solutions through shared language, signposting and a common narrative – embedding the messaging in their consumer-facing activities
- Build an ethos of collaboration: forging strong partnerships within and outside of the steering group; linking and aligning with other initiatives
- Present an alternative vision to the current negative media and political debates
- Tackle the lack of trust by coordinating credible organisations and opinion formers to speak consistently in an empowering way
Several partners implemented the co-created messaging through changes to their consumer-facing activities, including:
- Homebase developing a new ‘energy control’ section to their website, directing customers to solutions they could buy online
- Trustmark redesigning the advice they give tradesmen
- Energy Saving Trust aligning the messaging in their Big Energy Saving Week
- John Lewis redesigning training for staff in the appliances department to equip them to advise customers on energy control solutions