This report revisits families involved in the Green Streets programme to find out whether they have maintained their energy efficient behaviour and how participating in Green Streets changed their views of energy usage, bills and climate change.

Green Streets is a programme run by British Gas that has explored how people can be helped to reduce their energy use, with knock-on effects for both bills and emissions. The first phase of Green Streets was a year-long challenge, which took place in 2008. Groups of residents on eight different streets across the UK competed against one another to see who could save the most energy. In 2010, the second phase of Green Streets saw communities take on responsibility for designing and delivering energy projects. IPPR analysis identified substantial gains in terms of energy savings and emissions reductions in both cases.

This new research brings a new perspective to existing insights from the Green Streets programme by exploring how positive changes to attitudes and behaviour around energy use can be sustained over the long term. Generally, behaviour changes in favour of energy efficiency were most commonly sustained when they were easy and repetitive, such as turning off unnecessary lights. Changes were less consistently maintained when they impinged on personal comfort, such as reducing tumble dryer usage.

Based on interviews with Green Streets participants, this report makes a series of policy recommendations, including that the government should:

  • provide public information on the 'green deal' and support communities to exploit opportunities as part of that deal
  • monitor the Rural Community Renewable Fund to gauge whether it should be expanded in size and/or extended to non-rural areas
  • work with suppliers to find ways of providing data to consumers that compares their usage with similar households in their area, possibly online but preferably on household bills.