Power failure: An exploration into the barriers faced by adolescents when saving energy within the school environment

Luke Waldie, Beth Bell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objectives: Reducing levels of electrical energy consumption amongst adolescents is important as research indicates that adolescents use more electrical energy than any other domestic population. Previous research examining teen energy consumption has focused on energy use at home, yet adolescents spend the majority of their day at school. The present study seeks to understand, from the perspectives of adolescents, the issues and barriers faced by adolescents when attempting to save electrical energy at school. Design: A multi-methods qualitative design was employed, using documents and focus groups as sources of data. Method: 37 teenagers from four local secondary schools attended an energy-awareness event held at Northumbria University, wherein they took part in various activities regarding energy use and conservation. Following the event, each school was provided with a log book to record details of energy-saving details that took place in their school and also to write comments on the ease of these activities. Six weeks later, focus groups were held with adolescents in order to understand what factors prevent adolescents from using energy sustainably using the log book as prompts. The log books and focus group transcripts were subsequently examined using thematic analysis. Results: Five themes were generated in the present analysis: ‘power’, ‘peers’, ‘repetition and reinforcement’, ‘practicalities’ and ‘habit’. Power was a particularly dominant theme, with adolescents feeling that they did not have the authority to be proactive in establishing energy-saving activities within their school. Interpersonal pressure from peers was also an important barrier, with many participants experiencing obstacles in discussing energy-saving amongst peers for fear of being seen as ‘un-cool’. Discussion: The present research has highlighted important factors impeding sustainable energy use amongst adolescents within the school environment. It is hoped that these findings will guide development of new interventions aimed at reducing adolescent electrical energy use at school.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2013
EventBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference 2013 - Harrogate, UK
Duration: 9 Apr 2013 → …


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference 2013
Period9/04/13 → …


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