AN advertising campaign costing €10m aimed at reducing home energy bills has been a failure.
A study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said the 'Power of One' campaign had "no persistent effect" on the habits of millions of people, despite the enormous spend on TV and radio ads.
And it said that although it raised awareness about the types of changes that would lead to savings, it had no "significant effect" on behaviour.
The study is important because the Government must find ways to encourage people to reduce fossil fuel use to help curb global warming and reach binding EU targets. Some 21pc of our emissions come from energy production, and another 20pc from transport.
The results suggest that telling people what changes to make through a lengthy campaign may not be enough to change behaviour – the ESRI suggests that financial incentives, such as funding for more efficient boilers and a 'before' and 'after' bill highlighting savings, should be used to encourage reductions.
The campaign launched in September 2006 and ran until March 2008. Funded by the Department of Energy, it involved a targeted campaign aimed at reducing energy consumption.
Researchers said about €3m was spent on advertising. The total spend on the campaign was €10m.
The study examined daily gas consumption, using data from Bord Gais, and factored in seasonal weather patterns that could drive consumption.
Taking these into account, it found while there was some short-term efficiencies, they did not materialise over the medium and long-term. It found:
* Although about 80pc of the population saw the ads, they failed to change their behaviour.
* Energy efficiency awareness tended to be more prevalent among those on higher incomes, and least among younger people.
* There were reductions during the first year of the campaign, but "no further effects" in year two.
* The results did not show any "significant effect" on consumption from the TV campaign, in either year.
* While awareness of reducing the temperature by 1C to yield savings was more prevalent, it did not change behaviour.
Researchers said there were some limitations in their study, including the inability to look at long-term effects arising from the campaign.
The Department of Energy said the Power of One programme transferred to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in 2009, the period outside the study, and was designed to effect changes to consumer behaviour.
"The focus of the campaign shifted in 2009 away from mass awareness and PR activities to more localised and peer influencing activities," it said.