The Energy Diaries engaged in depth with members of the public over two months, as energy bills started to increase

BritainThinks and Cadent conducted ‘The Energy Diaries’ research programme, designed to both explore experiences of the Cost of Living (CoL) crisis, and to co-create ideas and solutions to help address this unprecedented increase in the cost of living, especially around increases in household energy costs. The Energy Diaries engaged in depth with members of the public over two months, as energy bills started to increase.

The Energy Diaries full report

Our insights

  1. Unprecedented cost of living increases, with energy costs front and centre are dominating every aspect of people’s lives and lifestyles, hot on the heels of the financial and emotional hit of Covid. Three-quarters (74%) of the public are really anxious about the cost of their energy bills this winter. A rise in the cost of living is consistently and spontaneously raised when considering concerns about participants’ current and future personal lives. Participants describe it having an impact on all forms of household expenditure and are hoping to see a return to lower costs and greater financial stability as soon as possible.
  2. Over half (55%) of the public feel totally powerless when it comes to trying to reduce their energy bills, and see no way to further reduce essential energy use. Many people feel resigned to their fate, which with 53% feeling there is no point in contacting their energy supplier as they don’t think there’s any help available.
  3. A lack of accurate energy-saving information means people can’t work out how to reduce their energy use and costs, with some using rules of thumb that might even increase costs. Around three-quarters (73%) of the public would like there to be one single comprehensive information source for accurate and trustworthy information about how they can reduce their energy bills and support available.
  4. Few know about existing support for people struggling with energy bills, with only 24% of the public thinking that their energy supplier has funding or financial support available. People want to see both Government and industry do much more to support those in greatest need - only 14% think the Government are doing all they can, and 13% believe the energy industry has supported customers as much as possible.
  5. People are switching off from energy-related media coverage – 43% of the public say they avoid media coverage about the energy crisis as it is all doom and gloom with no practical help.

True or false?

  • Using space heaters (e.g. electric heaters) is more efficient than whole house heating.  False
  • If i turn up the thermosat, the room will heat up more quickly.  False
  • The cost of gas is the same all the time and does not change depending on what time of day you use it.  True
  • Putting clingfilm on my windows will help to keep my home warm.  True
  • Getting your boiler and central heating system serviced regularly helps it run more efficiently so could save you money.  True
  • Poorly insulated homes will have to pay almost £1000 more than better insulated homes on their energy bills this winter.  True
  • Using a gas smart meter can actually help you to know how much every individual appliances use.  True
  • Unplugging appliances at the mains switch saves energy.  True
  • Leaving a light on uses less energy than turning it on and off.  False
  • Phone and laptop chargers use energy when plugged in if they're not connected to a device.  True