While the EU may be made up of 28 Member States, the number of islands within the union runs into the thousands, dotted around the seas of the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean. While climate and cultures may vary, many of the issues faced by these islands - such as achieving energy efficiency - are much the same.
This is why the European PROMISE Project - launched in June 2011 and funded by the European Commission under the Intelligent Energy - Europe (IEE) programme - has attempted to promote energy savings among households on four target islands. By sharing information and experience, energy agencies from EU members Samsø (Denmark), Rhodes (Greece) and Tenerife (Spain), along with Iceland, aimed to promote tried-and-tested methods for reducing the energy consumption of households.
Project successes were demonstrated recently at the European Awareness Conference "Save Energy Now", which took place in Brussels in April 2013. This helped to consolidate greater in-depth cooperation between the islands, and gave rise to an in-depth cooperation with six additional islands. These new 'Island buddies' will have the possibility of using the tools developed during the project.
These tools and methods include home energy checks and self-study courses, developed so that people can learn how to perform household energy checks for themselves. The course contains an Excel sheet that assists in this task.
Web-based energy efficiency calculators were also used throughout the project. The Icelandic Energy Agency developed several web based calculators to help consumers make more energy efficient decisions related to their home, car and transport. Some of these calculators were translated into English, and links to them including a short description can now be found on the project website.
School seminars to educate school children and their teachers about how to save energy were also carried out. A report entitled "Interactive Energy Saving Seminars in Schools" was published, which includes illustrative material. A list of energy saving tips targeted for media publication was also developed, and an app for smart phones, called 'Eco Calc', was created.
Through utilising these tools, the project has successfully recorded consistent energy savings of between 1000 and 8000 kilowatt-hours per household, depending on the local climate, or 5 to 20 % savings per household. Significant savings have also been achieved through improvements to the building envelope (for example, improving the insulation) and the replacement of heating units. Energy savings were also achieved through consumers changing their energy consumption habits.
All in all, the project should go some way to supporting the realisation of the energy targets set by the Commission for the year 2020: 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of energy from renewable sources, save 20% of EU energy consumption. Indeed, household electricity consumption is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. This has been compounded in recent years by increasing residential energy demand, due in part to larger homes, new appliances and more electrical equipment.
The method and results of the PROMISE project, which is due for completion in November 2013, have been disseminated and discussed at several recent conferences, including the 4th International Conference on Renewable Energy Sources & Energy Efficiency and the 7th International Conference on Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting.
Explore further: New efficiency standards for clothes washers, dishwashers