Build on moments of change

Habitual behaviour is sustained by one’s environment. People have certain ways of behaving at home or at work, and it is difficult to break one’s habits. One way to change habits is to target moments when things are changing in any case, for example: move to a new home, major home renovations, purchase of a new appliance, children start school or move to a new workplace or change of work tasks.

What you need to do: 

You can try to identify changes in your target group and make use of moments of change. For example:

  • design a project for new residents in the area
  • time major initiatives in your project at the start of the school semester
  • make use of changes occurring in your target group’s environment (e.g. arrival of new office equipment)
  • offer energy advice and new solutions in job application packs
When does it work?: 

Until now, there is more experience of this tool in other contexts than energy use in buildings, i.e., travel behaviour and nutritional advice. It is likely to be an appropriate tool in certain situations:

  • when you can identify the moment of change and time your initiative to fit it
  • if you can use new facilities to connect energy conservation with improved comfort and convenience
What do you need to look out for: 

►  Suitable moments of change do not occur so often.
►  Change can be stressful for your target group, so your intervention should be helpful rather than create additional problems and overload your target group.
►  You should be careful that people don’t get the feeling that you are ‘pushing’ the change, if they really don’t feel they need it.