The objective of the Energy Neighbourhood Project was to inspire and encourage communities to reduce energy consumption through changes in behaviour. Some eight to twelve households formed a team, the so-called Energy Neighbourhood. Each Neighbourhood accepted a challenge set by the city: to win, the Neighbourhood had to achieve an energy saving of at least eight per cent within six months compared with the previous year.
Almost 600 Energy Neighbourhoods, representing more than 5 000 households from nine countries including old and new Member States across the EU, took up the Energy Neighbourhoods challenge. On average, teams achieved energy savings of 10% (37% was achieved by the winning team from Sweden) through simple and cost-effective measures such as using energy saving lamps, disabling the standby function on electric appliances and changing their heating habits by reducing thermostat settings and making better use of the time clocks on their heating systems. The success of the initiative was largely due to the active involvement of public authorities, cities and municipalities, in addition to their energy agencies, which organised regular meetings and awareness-raising events, building confidence amongst householders and local businesses.
The project is based upon the forerunner initiative “Klimaatwijken” that was successfully organised by the project’s Belgian partners in the Flanders region for over five years. As a European project, it has been proven that the project idea can be successfully transferred to other European regions. Following the success of this initiative, Energy Neighbourhoods will be replicated again as an IEE project in 16 countries starting in May 2011.