Abstract: Renewable energy communities (RECs) might be an interesting new stakeholder in stimulating home energy-saving efforts by tenants and homeowners due to their potential of raising awareness locally and gaining public support for low-carbon energy and energy-savings projects, because RECs are often locally sited, in close social proximity of residents, and are already part of local structures and share local institutions. This comes with many benefits since they already have a reputation locally, a social history with the local community, and can be trusted by the latter. This makes them potentially better suited than other—often less-trusted—parties (i.e., government and business companies) to use their agency to encourage sustainable change. The article builds on empirical data from the EU Horizon 2020 project REScoop Plus, using a mixed-methods research approach, including desk research, expert interviews, validation workshops, and multiple surveys among RECs in six EU member states about energy-saving actions implemented, and their effectiveness in terms of raising awareness, influencing the intention to save energy, and actual energy-saving behaviour. This article provides more insight into the assessment of actions and measures for coaching householders to achieve energy savings and low carbon goals. In addition, it shows the potential of using RECs as a new strategy to address home energy savings in the current housing stock, including options to improve the energy performance thereof.
Keywords: citizens’ initiatives; community energy; energy conservation; energy transition; home energy savings; renewable energy communities; societal self-governance