4 in 5 Brits change behaviour at home due to energy crisis

The Eco Experts

Four in five people in Britain have changed their home energy habits this year, according to our annual National Home Energy Survey.

In the face of a spiralling energy and cost of living crisis, many households have been forced to choose between heating and eating, often suffering in the cold so they can afford to continue.

Our survey of 2,134 adults shows the public is on board with making relatively small energy-cutting moves, like turning off lights and installing smart meters.

However, more impactful measures like solar panels and effective insulation are still out of reach for many, thanks to the government’s limited offering of grants.

An image of white houses in a valley, next to green hills and under a blue sky

How many Brits have adjusted their behaviour due to rising energy bills?

A bar chart showing that 81% of people agree or strongly agree they've changed their behaviour at home due to energy crisis

81% of Brits have adjusted their behaviour at home in order to save on energy bills over the past 12 months.

The enormous scale of this trend shows how deeply the energy crisis has affected households all over the country.

40% strongly agreed that they’ve adjusted their behaviour, meaning they’ve likely made a high number of intentional actions to reduce their energy usage.

And this trend held strong across all measured demographic groups.

At least 74% of every generation changed their habits to reduce their energy bills, showing how this crisis cuts across all age groups.

A minimum of 77% of every income group have also adjusted their behaviour, apart from when it came to people who earn more than £200,000 – though even then, 63% have changed their ways.

And at least three-quarters of tenants, homeowners, and respondents who still live with their parents made changes.

What behavioural changes have people undertaken?

54% of people have heated their home less, making it the biggest behavioural change over the past 12 months.

One survey taker told us: “I’ve delayed using my central heating and worn a coat indoors, even though I have very poor circulation and cannot feel my legs at times.”

Another person said they’ve acted by “having the heating on for much less of the day, turning the thermostat down, and wearing warm clothes in the house.

“I’ve sometimes been cold at home, which can be a bit miserable, and can cause me to get dry skin.”

Some people said they’d taken the extraordinary step of not using their central heating system at all, while others have given up food to get some warmth.

One respondent said: “I’ve missed out on meals so I can have the heating on occasionally,” while another told us: “I only have a hot meal every other day.”

37% of people said they’ve acted to cut their electricity usage, largely by switching off lights in empty rooms, turning off products at the wall, and limiting their use of large appliances like ovens, TVs, and washing machines.

Others reported washing their clothes at relatives’ homes or their workplaces, wearing dirty clothes, and showering less.

Pull quote reading: At least 74% of every generation changed their habits to reduce their energy bills, showing how this crisis cuts across all age groups.

What effect will this have on people?

Ed Davie of the Centre for Mental Health told The Eco Experts that the effects of this crisis would be felt for many years to come.

“Poverty is one of the most significant causes of mental and physical ill health – if you cannot afford the basics, like heating your home and decent food, you are much more likely to suffer stress, anxiety, depression, and many physical illnesses,” he explained.

“The effects of poverty are especially harsh and long-lasting for children. With one in three children in the UK living in poverty, we are worsening a mental health crisis that will cause huge amounts of illness – which will cost many more billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to treat than it would to prevent.

“The £20-a-week increase to Universal Credit during Covid lockdowns significantly reduced poverty and with it the risks to people’s mental health.

“The government now needs to ensure social security and the minimum wage is increased to a level that supports people’s health and keeps up with the cost of living, whilst investing in genuinely affordable, well-insulated homes powered by cheaper, secure, renewable energy.”

Tenants vs homeowners

84% of homeowners have made changes to cut their energy bills, compared to 79% of tenants.

This shows once again how the overwhelming majority of Brits have been impacted by the energy crisis.

A slightly lower percentage of renters have altered their behaviour, possibly because some tenants have their energy bills included in their rent payments.

And of course, when you own your home, you have more control over your home’s energy.

It’s easier to get a free smart meter, track your usage, and generally feel like you have some ownership over your bills – plus you’re more likely to have the free time to consider and alter your habits, which many renters don’t.

How many Brits improved their property’s energy efficiency in the past year?

56% of people have taken measures to make their home more energy efficient in the past 12 months.

And 41% of respondents have improved their home’s energy efficiency specifically to combat rising energy bills, emphasising that the public’s main concern right now is the cost of living.

Unfortunately, people have been financially constrained in the changes they could make.

This is clear in the gap between the 56% who’ve made energy-efficiency improvements and the 81% who’ve altered their behaviour. After all, changing your habits is free.

For instance, one survey respondent told us: “We’re in the process of moving house and I looked into getting solar panels for our new home, but decided the upfront costs were too prohibitive.”

And another said: “In order to make the changes that are needed to have a very large impact on their bills, people would need money in the first place, and people don’t currently – with the cost of living crisis – have that money freely available.

“It’s a vicious cycle.”

What measures have people taken?

People have taken a variety of measures, from quick, cheap alterations to large purchases – though there’s a clear tendency towards easy, low-cost measures.

One person we spoke to said: “I reduced the flow temperature on my boiler, and replaced some halogen and CFL light bulbs with LED bulbs.”

Another commented: “We have made sure to get curtains that fit well around all of our windows and don’t cover our radiators, to try and hold as much heat inside the house.”

And a different respondent told us: “I have turned off two radiators in under-used rooms.”

Which UK regions have made the most changes?

Map showing which UK regions have made the most changes

62% of people in Wales have taken measures to improve their home’s energy efficiency – a higher percentage than anywhere else in the UK.

Greater London and the south-west came second and third, with 60% and 59% respectively.

This makes sense, considering these three regions expressed the highest levels of anxiety about climate change in our survey.

They also came in the top four regions for people who said ‘yes’ when asked if the UK is currently experiencing a climate change emergency.

At the other end of the scale, 50% of people in the east of England have implemented energy-efficiency measures – meaning a majority in every region has taken action.

How have different generations dealt with their property’s energy efficiency?

71% of Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2013) respondents have taken measures to improve their home’s energy efficiency in the past 12 months, making them the most active generation – by far.

The older the generation, the less likely their respondents were to have made energy-efficiency improvements.

61% of the second-youngest generation we surveyed, Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996), have taken measures, which dropped to just over 53% when it came to Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980).

A majority of all age groups tried to improve their home’s energy efficiency, apart from the oldest age group we surveyed, the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945).

How did household income affect people’s response?

Graph showing how household income affected people’s response

The wealthier the household, the more likely they were to take actions to improve their property’s energy efficiency.

This makes sense, as green home improvements like insulation, solar panels, and double glazing can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds – which many people don’t have spare during a cost of living crisis.

74% of respondents whose households earn more than £100,000 have taken energy efficiency measures.

In contrast, 55% of people in households that make less than £100,000 have taken measures.

However, while the cost of eco-friendly measures can be an obstacle to making changes, the ongoing energy crisis has forced everyone to take actions anyway.

46% of those in the lowest wage bracket (less than £18,000) have made energy-efficiency improvements to their home.

Energy prices in the UK have doubled over the course of the past 12 months, in a country that has the worst-insulated housing in Europe.

This shameful state of affairs has forced even the least fortunate among us to take action – because as much as they can’t afford it, they also can’t afford not to.

Explore the rest of our National Home Energy Survey 2023

See the results


An overwhelming majority of Brits have altered their behaviour to lessen the impact of the UK’s horrendous energy bill increases.

While these energy-saving moves are welcome, they’re unfortunately not enough.

When the cost of something as basic as heating and lighting your home doubles in just 12 months, it’s going to cause suffering – and our survey shows it has, beyond any doubt.

This won’t change until the government pays to insulate homes across the country and properly funds the growth of renewable energy – instead of pumping billions of pounds into oil and gas subsidies.

Individual households can’t make enough of a difference. The government can.

To see how these results compare with last year’s survey, check out our National Home Energy Survey 2022.

Written by:
josh jackman
Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio.
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