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Brits' changing energy habits to help prepare for winter


  • Over half (56%) of British households have changed their energy habits throughout this year, and 29% are planning to keep monitoring them
  • 46% of people say their energy bills will be their biggest outgoing across the coming months, with 35% saying they are, or would change energy habits in an effort to protect Christmas budgets
  • Over a quarter (27%) think that lowering their thermostat by one degree compared to last year would make the biggest difference in reducing energy waste, with fitting energy efficient lightbulbs (23%) or having their boilers serviced (15%) also proving popular
  • Confidence that they can afford their energy bills this winter is higher in households with a smart meter (55%) than those without one installed (33%)

As the cost of living crisis advances into winter, over half (56%) of British households have changed their energy habits this year.

Prior to the Energy Price Guarantee announced in September 2022, 52% of Brits were still feeling concerned about rising energy prices, increasing their motivation to change their habits. Even with the additional support, the average household energy bill will increase by an expected £693 – becoming 54% more expensive than in 2021*.

Yet despite this concern, nearly a quarter (23%) feel they have a better handle on their energy usage now compared to March of this year – before the first energy price cap increase came into effect.

When asked what they could do to reduce wasted energy, the most common things people claimed to do were turn their thermostat down by one degree compared to last year (27%). Others cited using the heating less (26%), fitting energy efficient lightbulbs (23%) and having their boiler serviced (15%).

The findings come from ongoing research as part of Smart Energy GB’s Super Smart Energy Savers campaign, which has tracked the nation’s changing energy habits since the first energy price cap increase in April 2022.

To protect Christmas budgets, households with smart meters are more likely to have adjusted their energy habits (42%) compared to those without one installed (18%). Smart meters are installed by energy suppliers at no extra cost and come with a handy in-home display, which provides energy information that over a quarter (27%) have found reassuring.

Households with smart meters are also more confident that they can afford their energy bills this winter (55%) than those without one (33%).

With 46% of people stating that energy bills are set to be their biggest outgoing over the coming months, over a third (35%) say they’re saving for to pay for them. A further third of all households (36%) say they are or would change their energy habits in an effort to protect Christmas budgets.

Advice from the Super Smart Energy Savers Panel for the winter months includes:

Insulate Your Floors – Insulating your floors is an efficient way to retain heat in your home and can help to save you between £30-£70 on your bills annually***. This can be done by carpeting a room or even just adding a rug to a highly used area.

Go with the flow – Combi boilers work best when they heat radiators at 55°C or below. The temperature that your boiler heats your radiators is called the flow temperature and is often set between 60°C-80°C which can be much higher than necessary. By making this change, you could cut your gas use by 6-8% without changing the temperature in your rooms.****

Keep the heat – Simple draughtproofing measures such as insulation strips around windows and doors, available for a few pounds from most DIY shops, or making sure your letter box shuts securely could help stop heat being carried away. This will help improve your heating system’s efficiency and cost effectiveness. 

Cook differently – Microwaves and slow cookers can be much more efficient at cooking certain foods than an oven and for those spending more time at home during the winter months, the savings can add up. Check the packaging or search online to see if your food could be heated in a more efficient way.

Get a smart meter – Use a smart meter’s in-home display to see how much appliances such as a boilers or electric radiators add to your energy spend, will help you to prepare as temperatures drop. Simply contact your energy supplier to find out more about getting a smart meter installed at no extra cost. 

Routine refresh

The changing of seasons signals a refresh in routine for many British households. As temperatures fall, over a third (36%) are thinking about using a timer for their heating to help control their energy use.

Over a quarter (29%) plan to keep monitoring their habits in order to keep costs down, with 57% saying managing energy bills is the most important thing when thinking about costs this autumn.

This research marks the third stage of the Super Smart Energy Savers campaign, which has combined the expertise of Smart Energy GB, consumer advocates Dom Littlewood and Helen Skelton, plus financial advice site MoneyMagpie, to help all households find the right advice and manage their energy use.

As a member of the Super Smart Energy Savers Panel, earlier this year Dom Littlewood launched the online mini-series, ‘What’s Watt’, tracking three families across Great Britain as they took steps to reduce their energy use. He has now revisited them to see whether the advice he gave helped them take control of their household budgets.

Dominic Littlewood said: “The positive steps we’ve seen families taking to cut down their energy bills are having an impact – and despite the cold setting in, there are still actionable ways to better manage energy use and household budgets.

Revisiting the families I met during my What’s Watt content series proves just that. Despite having busy homes and preparing for winter, they have been able to manage their bills better after using their smart meter’s in-home display to monitor what they spend and make small changes to how they use energy.

The latest instalment of What’s Watt, alongside the Super Smart Energy Savers campaign offers households across Great Britain access to information they may not have seen before, so they have more tricks up their sleeve when it comes to taking control of their household budgets.”

Victoria Bacon, Director at Smart Energy GB, comments: “Over the past few months, Brits have looked to find ways to better manage the energy they use and save money in the process. With temperatures set to drop further in the coming weeks and months, people will rely even more on heating to stay warm, so it will be even more important to look at their wider energy use and the energy efficiency of their homes.

“This series has looked to help people understand how their everyday habits can have a big impact on their energy bills. It’s difficult to change what you can’t see, so using a smart meter’s in-home display to monitor energy use in near-real time helps you stay in control. Getting a smart meter is just one thing that could help people to save energy and money through the winter months.”

Vicky Parry from MoneyMagpie adds: “Winter is traditionally a time when household expenditure rises and, with families coming together for the holidays, keeping everyone entertained and warm within budget becomes even more important to people. Throughout this year we have seen the cost of food, fuel and energy rising, which is why we’ve helped pull together some handy tips to help people manage their finances”.

To watch the episode in full and find out more ways to save energy this winter, head to our Super Smart Energy Savers page.

* According to Ofgem, as a result of the energy price cap increase in April 2022, the average household energy bill will increase by £693

**Energy Use Calculator - Around 80-90% of the energy used by a washing machine is used to heat water, unless the washing machine is connected specifically to a hot water connection.

***Energy Saving Trust - Insulating your ground floor is a great way to keep your property warm and can reduce your energy bills by between £30-£70.

****Nesta advice on boiler efficiency