Research released today reveals the first ever index to pinpoint Britain's biggest energy-saving influencers. With 169 people in their social networks Britons are already acting as advisers to 10 people on energy-related issues. The report shows that just if just 0.59% of the population, i.e. one person in 200 (equivalent to the population of Manchester), tells every single person in their network what they have done to save energy, the entire UK population could be reached.
The influencer index splits the public into four types - it shows that women are leading the way, as they make up over half (53%) of the most influential group ('Community Changers').
The index was created for the Energy Saving Trust, the independent energy advice service, by Henley Centre Headlight Vision and Wildfire. It measures an individual's awareness and information on climate change (AI) and energy saving issues, and compares it with their response in terms of their degree of engagement and action (EA) (I=AI + EA).
On the back of the findings from the index, the Energy Saving Trust is working with eight key community groups to see what practical change they are able undertake during Energy Saving Week and how many conversations they can start. Posties, Women's Institute members, online gurus and religious leaders are all involved in the week because they are dominated by 'Community Changers' - the highest influencer group.
The four influencer groups (high to low):
Community Changers - (38% of UK population)
The biggest and most influential group, couples dominate the Community Changers, who are vocal about their opinions and back up their views with action. They believe they're knowledgeable about climate change and energy saving and turn to many sources for advice and information on these issues. As part of extensive communities, including international and online communities, this is the group who initiate the most conversations about climate change and these are potentially the people with the power to do most to help fight climate change. Examples might include - Chris Martin from Coldplay and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Armchair Advocates (20% of UK population)
Married men lead this group, which claims to be very knowledgeable about climate change and energy saving. Often, however, this knowledge is not backed up with action. Group members tend to view their core social network and experts or authorities as the most trusted sources of information. Examples include - Sting, active on a global scale, not specifically on energy reduction issues at home.
Tea-Time Solvers - (17% of UK population)
Often women aged between 35 and 54 and most likely of all groups to have children, tea-time solvers feel guilty about not saving energy and admit to not knowing a lot about climate change. When looking for information on these issues though, the group makes use of a wide circle of influence, consulting everyone from neighbours to radio programmes in their quest for knowledge. Examples include - Fern Britton or Lorraine Kelly.
Self-contained singles - (25% of UK population)
Predominantly aged between 18 and 44, and the most likely of all groups to be single, this group still has room to learn more about energy saving. Moving within select communities, they only regard a small circle, mainly made up of friends and family, as trusted advisors when it comes to climate change and energy saving. Examples include - The Primrose Hill gang in London - Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and Sienna Miller.
The Energy Saving Trust is calling on communities to harness this influence during Energy Saving Week and encourage members to commit to save their 20% of energy.
Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, comments:
"The index shows it is not just experts and scientists who can influence us. The head of your local WI, your postie or even your partner could be the 'Community Changers' in your life. Even if you're not a 'Community Changer', you can still boost your influence by seeking impartial advice from an Energy Saving Trust advice centre on 0800-512-012, or by making an energy saving commitment."
The Institute of Public Policy Research report, Warm Words II, conducted in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust, concluded that communal address is the key to climate change action, suggesting that saving the world starts with Lewisham/Manchester/London/Birmingham. (Some 1,119 pieces of media content were assessed for the language that was used to describe climate change ranging from national and local newspaper and magazine articles, through to radio, print and web ads and interviews with direct key influencers at public meetings).
The Energy Saving Trust is calling on individuals to use their influence within the communities they are part of during this year's Energy Saving Week, which will focus on the theme of 'A Community a Day' and will see the Energy Saving Trust partnering with a variety of communities to encourage their members to pass the energy saving message on and commit to save their 20%.
The Energy Saving Trust is an independent organisation providing advice for people to help reduce their energy use and acts as a bridge between government, consumers, trade, businesses, local authorities and the energy market. It provides impartial information and advice and has a network of advice centres in the UK specifically designed to help consumers take action to save energy.