TYS organised an Energy saving campaign between October 2022 and February 2023 that aimed to encourage TYS’s tenants to save energy. This was prompted by the fact that Russia’s offensive war on Ukraine has caused a Europe-wide energy crisis, for which TYS wanted to prepare during the coldest months of the heating season. The campaign went well in the Foundation’s housing locations: it showed encouraging results and received good feedback from the tenants.
As the weather grew colder during autumn 2022, TYS started to realise more and more that the upcoming winter was going to be an exceptional one as regards the supply of energy – it was predicted that energy costs would rise and that there could even be a shortage of energy in the coldest part of winter. TYS decided to start preparing for possible energy-related challenges and saving energy. For the energy saving measures, the Foundation’s nearly 6,700 tenants became a key factor: their consumption would play a crucial part in the energy consumption of the upcoming winter.
As per the rental agreements of TYS’s apartments, the lease includes electricity and water. Only exceptions are the Tyyssija and Kuunsilta housing locations where water is invoiced according to consumption. The Aitiopaikka housing location also started consumption-based water consumption in January 2023. This poses a challenge for saving energy, as consumption does not reflect directly in the tenants’ wallets. In addition, a large part of the tenant population is living on their own for the first time, making procedures or costs related to energy consumption less familiar to many.
According to the annual comparison by the Finnish Associations of Student Housing Organisations SOA ry in 2023, the Foundation’s electricity consumption was lower than average compared to other student housing operators – out of the 14 operators under comparison, TYS took ninth place but was amongst the top consumers of water. This is why TYS also wanted to focus their energy saving measures on curbing water consumption. The Foundation’s goal is to achieve carbon neutrality, and reducing water consumption can also affect the carbon footprint of the Foundation.
The Foundation also optimised energy consumption related to other activities during the winter. Examples of optimised functions include illumination, ventilation and saunas. For saunas, the heating schedules were revised and sauna shifts with under 60% usage were discontinued. The discontinuation of minimally used sauna shifts generated savings equal to the annual electricity consumption of a detached house with electric heating in less than six weeks.
Small actions make a big difference
For the tenants’ energy consumption, inspired by the Government’s joint ‘Down a degree’ energy saving campaign, TYS decided to start a special communication campaign for guiding tenants to save electricity and water. Energy savings started on 10 October 2022 and continued until the end of February 2023.
The campaign entailed TYS inviting all tenants to join in the effort of making small energy-saving changes in their everyday lives. Tenants received a weekly energy saving tip on their e-mail and, in addition, tips were published on TYS’s social media channels and the campaign’s own website.
The goal was to keep the tips easy, fun and well suited to everyday student life so that making changes would be reasonable for the tenants. Each time, a connection was made between potential energy savings by the tips and a tangible amount of electricity consumed (by a detached house with electric heating, for example). As Christmas was approaching, tips for the holiday season were also provided. The tips also emphasised the importance of overall consumption by the whole tenant population. Small individual savings can amount to huge savings if the whole tenant population takes the same energy-saving action.
The campaign also entailed an energy saving competition that challenged housing locations to calculate their own energy consumptions together. The competition started by calculating each housing location’s average consumption of electricity and water for the campaign months during the previous three years.
Lots were drawn among tenants from the winning housing locations that had signed up for the campaign lottery for gift cards to Ruohonjuuri webstore.
Energy consumption started to decline – the tenants gave good feedback to the campaign
Consumption readings were added up in early March 2023, and Ikituuri was the TYS housing location with the highest electricity savings (23.18% reduction) and Student Village East with the highest water savings (21.02% reduction). Overall, there was a 1.56% reduction in the consumption of electricity and an 8.18% reduction in the consumption of water compared to the corresponding three-year average during the campaign, which can be considered an excellent result.
A campaign survey was also sent to the tenants to inquire their views on the campaign tips and the chosen communication channels. Among the 142 tenants who responded the survey, over 88% perceived the campaign energy saving tips as useful and easy to implement. E-mail was overwhelmingly the most popular way of receiving information on one’s housing-related energy consumption (72% of respondents).
Open feedback praised the campaign for its topicality but also appreciated the impact of energy consumption on climate change. The tips were seen as fun and easy to implement.
“The competition and the campaign challenged me personally to take action for saving energy with more creativity. The provided tips were ordinary and, since I was already doing most of them, I was inspired to further adapt them. Another important idea was the community spirit – I felt that all of us tenants were campaigning together.”
“There were a lot of tips, and they were easy to implement and to make a habit of. I find such campaigns useful and important because they make a concrete difference.”
“This kind of campaign is important and very topical, and also a great way of getting tenants to pay attention to their own consumption.”
Based on the received feedback, energy-related communication will be continued in the future as well. Another campaign related to energy consumption is being planned for 2023.