A New Research Project Reduced Residents’ Water and Energy Consumption

  • 1.7.2024
  • News

Y-Säätiö’s water saving study explores tenants’ consumption habits in terms of water and energy use. The study looked at the potential cost and environmental effect of two different green nudges: a smart shower head and a time-measuring hourglass on water and energy savings in housing. The study highlighted the importance of motivating residents to reduce water consumption and adopt environmentally friendly solutions.

Working together towards greener everyday life

Landlords have a key role to play in promoting sustainable housing. Through effective communication, encouragement and sound research, landlords can raise awareness of the environmental impact of tenants’ consumption habits on a broad scale. As a landlord, Y-Säätiö wants to support its tenants in making more responsible choices in their daily lives.

The starting point for Y-Säätiö‘s water saving study was that showering consumes a significant amount of water and energy in households. The aim was to engage residents in the green transition by providing a range of tools to raise awareness about water consumption and promote sustainability. The study also aimed to provide Finnish landlords with new tools on the use and cost-effectiveness of incentives, so that the results could be used, for example, in sustainable housing planning.

Promoting lifestyle change with green incentives

According to Sitra’s Resource Wise Citizens study, making a lifestyle change can be challenging: although Finns have a positive attitude towards sustainable lifestyles, few of them think enough about the environmental impact of their habits. This phenomenon is known as the attitude-behaviour gap, where ecological attitudes are not reflected in concrete actions in everyday life.

“However, psychology and behavioural economics can be used to develop more effective approaches to tackle climate change and narrow the attitude-behaviour gap. A good example of this is the nudge methods used in the study, which are subtle incentives to encourage people to act in a more environmentally friendly way,” says Elisabetta Leni, researcher at Y-Säätiö.

Two different devices were chosen to test the effectiveness of nudging: suction-cup hourglasses and ORAS Hydractiva digital shower heads.

The Oras shower head has a display that shows the user the water consumption, water temperature, energy used to heat the water and the durability rating. The digital shower head was also fitted with an LED light that indicated the water consumption status in a similar way to traffic lights.

Nudges are effective tools

The results showed that the digital showerhead reduced per capita cold water consumption by 5.6 litres (-8%) and hot water consumption by 5.1 litres (-12%) per day. The results show that the effect was particularly strong among younger tenants, single people and people living in the metropolitan area.

In contrast, the four-minute hourglasses had no significant impact on water and energy consumption during washing. The payback period of the digital shower was estimated at 2.4 years for a family of two, making it a cost-effective investment to promote sustainable housing practices.

The study shows that monitoring water consumption does make a real difference in reducing energy and water consumption and reduces carbon emissions from housing by 4% per inhabitant per year.

Tia de Godzinsky, sustainability expert Y-Säätiö.

“While water saving in itself does not always significantly reduce emissions, the energy used to heat water is a significant climate driver. Even small changes in everyday routines can make a significant difference in terms of savings and environmental impact,” says Tia de Godzinsky, Sustainability Expert at the Y-Säätiö.