Energy efficiency and renewables have long been a top priority for the region of Upper Austria and its energy agency, OÖ Energiesparverband (ESV). More than 60 % of space heating in the region already comes from renewables and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings were reduced by 32 % in the past 10 years. Only 18 % of dwellings are still heated with oil. Although this number might seem small, these heating systems – around 110,000 – are responsible for a staggering 45 % of the total building CO2! With a choice of affordable and highly efficient renewable options (heat pumps, automatic biomass boilers, district heating from renewables, solar), moving away from oil heating is the next logical step in the energy transition.
In addition to banning oil heating in new buildings – brought into force in Upper Austria in 2019 – and attractive financial incentives to replace oil heating, further measures are needed to speed up the replacement of oil heating. In 2019, the ESV developed and launched “AdieuÖl”, a large-scale information and stakeholder campaign supported by the Regional Minister of Energy. The campaign reaches out to people in their social environment, motivates them to participate in multiple ways, and uses the power of civil society and community to build up momentum for the energy transition. By 2035, there will be no more oil heating in Upper Austria!
The ESV carried out a market analysis to identify and better understand the target group. Among others, it revealed that communication would need to focus on other elements than climate protection and energy cost savings, which had not motivated these oil-heater so far. Efforts were put into finding arguments and a language they could relate to, in essence: oil heating is not modern anymore, it is dying out; switching is simpler than expected; and the investment pays off for you and the environment.
The campaign’s strategy is to activate stakeholder groups that can identify oil-heating homeowners and directly contact them. 44 municipalities have already become «AdieuÖl municipalities». Many installers and equipment manufacturers have also joined the campaign through actions such as offering «AdieuÖl» rebates or organising activities with schools and local communities. Schools, associations and clubs (i.e. Fridays for Future, voluntary fire brigades, scouts, church groups) got involved with a wide range of activities, action days, social media, etc.
In addition, the ESV led several campaign actions such as a big AdieuÖl competition, information stands at energy and building tradeshows, weekly AdieuÖl-News, TV advertisements, a website, information folders, and communication through the agency’s own channels. Upper Austria and the ESV are giving a clear sign of their commitment to leaving oil behind – and it is working! More than 3,000 old oil boilers were replaced in 2019 alone. The time has come to say «Adieu» to oil!