About the project

Overview

  • Where and how do people learn about domestic energy saving and efficiency?
  • How might knowledge about energy saving and efficiency be shared and communicated more effectively?
  • What are the barriers to the spread of energy knowledge in communities?
  • What is the potential for 'community knowledge networks' to aid in sharing energy knowledge?

RECCKN is one of seven interdisciplinary projects funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under their Energy and Communities collaborative venture.

From February 2011 to August 2013 the project carried out innovative, qualitative research in collaboration with 55 households in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Shrewsbury, two areas with contrasting socio-economic profiles and different levels of environment-related activity within them.

The research has involved:

  1. individual home energy interviews,
  2. twelve focus groups and
  3. four participant-designed actions.

RECCKN team meetingThe data we collected have enabled us to compare and contrast how 'knowledge networks' - in other words the connections that allow information to circulate and learning to take place - operate in these two communities. We have looked at how people gain knowledge about energy from each other, as well as from the media, local groups and organisations, businesses, events and other information sources they encounter in their daily lives.

The RECCKN approach is different from much previous academic research on energy, which has focussed on the knowledge held by individuals, rather than how knowledge travels within communities and networks. Most community energy research has studied communities where some initiative to produce or conserve energy is already in place. While these 'success stories' are interesting and inspirational, they have tended to overlook the difficulties people face in trying to organise such projects from the start. In contrast, our work has involved participants not previously involved in a community energy project, and has concentrated on local areas where, like most places across the UK, there was little or no existing community energy activity.

That our findings are so similar across contrasting places and socio-economic groups suggests that they are widely applicable across the UK. They should therefore be of great interest to policy makers, local authorities, third sector organisations, community groups and individual citizens.