What Sort of an Energy Community Are You?

Have you ever wondered why your community is trying to save energy? We’re all agreed that it makes sense and it’s a good thing to be doing – but do you ever stop to ponder what’s really motivating you all? Is it concern for the planet, the desire to safeguard resources for future generations, or purely an attempt to cut bills?

Of course, people do things for different reasons – and what appeals to one, won’t necessarily appeal to all – but as a community, what’s pressing your energy-saving buttons? Are you a group of ethical, environmental or economic energy savers? Perhaps you’re a bit of a mix of all three.

Here’s a quick questionnaire to help you work it out. You can work through it yourself, based on your knowledge of your friends and neighbours, but perhaps the best way to get a real feel for what drives the community is to get everyone to do it for themselves and then put all the results together at the end.

Either way, there are no right or wrong answers, so have fun finding out!

1. What is the FIRST thing that pops into your mind when you think about saving energy?

  • a) Lower bills
  • b) Reducing emissions
  • c) “Doing the right thing”

2 .What is the single MOST IMPORTANT influence on the food you buy?

  • a) Value for money
  • b) Food miles/country of origin
  • c) Fair trade/organic/good animal husbandry certification

3. What do large wind-farms mean to you?

  • a) Energy security
  • b) An inconvenient necessity
  • c) A blot on the landscape

4. What is your MAIN concern over nuclear power?

  • a) A possible accident
  • b) Their likely effect on the environment
  • c) The long-term storage of radioactive waste

5. What would consider FIRST before installing your own solar energy system?

  • a) Money savings / payback period
  • b) The carbon emissions avoided
  • c) Whether the manufacturer / installer is a local firm

6. When do you fit low energy light bulbs?

  • a) Straight away
  • b) The existing bulbs die
  • c) They are available locally

7. Natural insulation materials such as wool, hemp or flax are important because:

  • a) They’re effective
  • b) They have low embodied energy
  • c) They’re natural materials

8. What is the BIGGEST appeal of a supermarket home delivery service to you?

  • a) Convenience
  • b) Reducing the carbon cost of food
  • c) Provides jobs

9. If you were thinking of installing a mini wind turbine, what would you check FIRST ?

  • a) The local average wind speed
  • b) The potential carbon saving
  • c) The availability of local service engineers

10. Would you ever consider grey water recycling – and why?

  • a) No – at least not until we are metered for water
  • b) Yes – it’s crazy to use treated water on the garden
  • c) Yes – when so many people in the world have no clean water, it’s wrong to waste ours

11. You’ve given a neighbour a lift in your car and they make no offer to share the petrol costs; how do you feel?

  • a) A little aggrieved; I wouldn’t have taken the money, but it’s only polite to offer.
  • b) Much better, because the journey was more fuel efficient with a passenger.
  • c) Happy to have helped a neighbour

12. Finally, how do you view the whole idea of recycling?

  • a) An unavoidable necessity
  • b) An essential task
  • c) A civic duty


  • Mostly (a)s – Economic
  • Mostly (b)s – Environmental
  • Mostly (c)s – Ethical

A half-and-half split between:

  • (a)s & (b)s – Econo-environmental
  • (a)s & (c)s – Ethico-economic
  • (b)s & (c)s – Enviro-ethical

Finally, of course, if you ended up with a roughly equal mix of(a)s, (b)s & (c)s, then you’ve clearly got a very well balanced set of economic, ethical and environmental motives indeed!

Whatever your community’s reasons for trying to save energy – and there really aren’t any wrong ones – keep up the good work, and the best of luck in doing it!