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Baker Homes Blog

Most people still don’t understand their energy bills, study finds

Posted by Begum Bidik Nash on 04-Nov-2022 07:30:00

Recently Baker Homes and partners undertook a national study to test the effectiveness of practical ways to deliver information to domestic energy users to encourage them to save energy. The following is the second instalment of the second major report we published of our findings which focuses on understanding residents’ perceptions of energy and how they use energy in the home.

 The survey results showed that 40% had problems with keeping their homes warm, even with the heating on. This could be an indication of under-heating, inadequate insulation, draughty windows or inefficient heating systems. (Figure 1).

The results indicate that those who report difficulties with keeping up with their energy bills also use more energy, both gas and electricity, than those who are more comfortable with their payments (Figure 2). On average, energy use of those people managing their bills ‘very well’ is approximately 20% lower than those having severe problems.

Although one might expect low income groups to experience hardships with payments; their properties were still reported to be under-heated despite higher levels of energy use. The causes of this can be a combination of several factors such as inefficient heating systems, inadequate insulation and/or glazing and lack of knowledge of home heating controls.

 In this study, 79% of respondents felt that their energy bills need to be easier to understand (Figure 3). Since this question was asked, energy companies have been required by Ofgem to make bills ‘simpler, clearer and fairer’, including information on the cheapest tariff available. However, this and other results point to a need not just for better billing information, but also for clear education to households on how their energy usage mounts up with the wide variety of ways that it is used in the home, and how to use it more efficiently.

Fifty-eight percent noted that they did not know the cost per unit of their energy without looking at their energy bills (Figure 4), with 22% ‘not sure’. Only 20% said they knew what they were paying per unit of electricity.

Thirty-five percent of respondents stated that they either didn’t know, or were not sure how to set their home heating controls (Figure 5). It is not clear, however, to what extent the remaining 65% understood the best ways to manage the heating system efficiently.

Previous research points out that while people may be able to adjust the thermostat to get the home to a desired temperature, they are quite likely to do so in inefficient ways. They reported that a frequently-found error was the premise that turning the thermostat higher than the required temperature would heat the house more quickly. Additionally, where the thermostat was in a hall or landing, it may be set higher than required in an attempt to control the temperature in a different room such as the sitting-room.

We are running a second National Energy Study this winter. The focus is behaviour change and analysing actual energy use relative to SAP performance. If you are a landlord with over 400 2-bedroom homes and interested to be involved, please contact Andrew Eagles, andrew@bakerstimber.co.uk or here

Was this report interesting? Click on the links to access the other sections of this report: Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4 or access the full report here.

 

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Topics: Electricity, National Energy Study, SHIFT corporate partner, Bills

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