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Saving energy together

How to Talk to Reluctant Housemates About Saving Energy

Ashley Robinson
March 6, 2024

If you’re trying to save energy and money in your home with OhmConnect or otherwise, you may find yourself with an unexpected issue—your housemates not being excited to participate. Sharing a living space with anyone—partners, children, roommates—can be challenging in a number of ways, especially when it comes to changing daily habits. Everyone has their own lives and priorities, people can be particular in their habits, and nobody wants to feel inconvenienced or uncomfortable in their home. But in order to save energy, a household needs to be on the same page, at least broadly, about the goal of cutting back.

Conversations about energy use, daily habits, and climate change can be sensitive for a lot of reasons, from climate apathy to lack of education to differences in values, but they’re important! Here are some strategies for having conversations about energy use that are productive, understanding, and motivating to help get your household on board with saving energy together.

Identify The “Why”

Everyone has different motivations and priorities in their life, so dig into some different ways people may be motivated to care about conservation and energy use generally. Start with your own reasoning—why do you want to try to save energy? Some examples of motivations could be:

  • Saving money on utility bills
  • Ensuring the wellbeing of the planet and community for children and future generations
  • Reducing pollution and improving air quality in your area
  • Preserving and protecting the natural world
  • Energy security in a tumultuous global climate

Start by communicating why reducing your impact is important to you, then ask some questions and see if you can find out how saving energy could fit into others’ priorities and values in their life.

Educate Casually and Kindly

If housemates understand a bit more about climate change and the potential benefits of cutting back on energy usage or participating in OhmConnect, they might be more open to joining in. That said, most people don’t like being lectured to, so think about everyone’s interests and values and try to find quick, relatable facts about clean energy and the environmental impact of daily habits.

For example, if you’re discussing OhmConnect with your roommate who likes to exercise outside, explaining the basics of time of use and how cutting back at certain times can prevent pollution in your area might motivate them. Or if you have children, you may find that talking about how green energy can keep the planet healthy for the future helps with both your partner and your kids.

Lead by Example

If you’re the one getting the energy-saving ball rolling, start by being mindful of your own electricity usage habits. This will help you to show your household that you’re invested and serious, and perhaps give you a chance to identify areas where cutting back is especially easy or especially challenging that can provide some inroads to conversations later about strategies for savings.

Provide Strategies And Make Plans Together

Especially if housemates haven’t really thought about saving energy before, it will be helpful to come with some information about big-ticket energy usage in the home, plus some strategies of how to reduce usage. That said, it’s important to make everyone feel included in the plan of how to reduce energy.

Rather than telling housemates exactly how to cut back, have some discussions together about where the most energy is used in the home and different ideas and strategies for conserving. You can start by identifying the electricity hogs in your home and then discuss strategies for cutting back together. Everyone’s priorities and needs are different, so you may find that something that works for you (like turning the AC off during an OhmHour) doesn’t work for your partner at all. By working out plans together, you can find compromises that make everyone feel included and comfortable.

Set Goals as a Group

Just like with energy-saving strategies, it may help to set some goals together as a household. Establish achievable goals for reducing electricity consumption as a household. This could include lowering the monthly electricity bill by a percentage, earning a certain number of Watts every month, or working towards overall savings on utilities bills annually.

Track Usage Visibly

The more you can share information about energy usage and progress towards savings goals, especially if it’s close to real-time, the easier it will be to show housemates the impact of changed habits. Post your earnings from OhmConnect and monthly utilities savings where everyone can see them to help everyone see the impact of their changes in habits. This visual reminder will help to motivate people in the household to keep on going!

Talk About Costs and Savings Regularly

Anyone who is paying bills these days knows how expensive utilities can be. For roommates and adults in the household, discussing energy costs and savings every month could be a powerful motivator, especially in these tight financial times. Having these conversations regularly will help remind people to be conscious of energy use, and it will also provide an opportunity to discuss strategies for saving energy seasonally so you’re all on the same page.

Offer Perks Other Than Savings

If savings on bills aren’t motivation enough for your housemates, or if you’re trying to involve kids in the project of saving energy, consider offering perks other than lower bills to get people excited. You could set up a rewards system based on meeting energy-savings goals, like treating roommates to a meal using the money saved from reduced electricity bills, or working towards buying something fun for the house (a new ENERGY STAR TV, anyone?) if you meet your OhmConnect goals for the year.

Be Patient and Supportive

Changing habits takes time, and if someone isn’t especially enthusiastic to start, the changes may feel especially slow. Be patient and continue to reinforce the importance of electricity conservation regularly, and make sure to celebrate progress and small changes with positive reinforcement. Be patient and non-judgmental with your household, and make sure to support even small efforts. Focus on the big picture, and don’t get discouraged!

Talk About Climate Apathy and Anxiety

A lot of people feel deep anxiety or even pessimism about the future of our planet, which is an understandable place to be. It’s hard to feel like one’s individual actions can make a big difference in the face of the overall challenges we face with climate change, but those small actions add up! If your housemates express climate anxiety or apathy, don’t ignore it—talk it through and see if you can find a way to reframe the discussion towards engagement and action.

Getting your household on board with saving energy can seem frustrating at first, but don’t forget that small changes add up over time. Do your best to be patient and empathetic with your household, make sure everyone is educated and has some strategies to participate, and encourage and reward successes in saving energy. Before you know it, you’ll start to see energy saving results, and hopefully, everyone else in the house will too!

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