Rent and energy bills are now the biggest drain on a family's finances, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The average household spent £489 per week last year, with £68 of that going on housing (excluding mortgages) fuel and power being.
This was the first time housing and power costs accounted for the lion's share of the budget and blamed on the rising cost of energy bills, the ONS said.
This winter, all of the Big Six energy firms increased their prices, with Npower hiking some customers' bills by as much as 10.4%.
Transport accounted for the next most significant area of household spending in 2012, at £64.10, down from £67.20 in 2011 when it was the most expensive area of spending.
The ONS said the fall in transport costs was down to motorists reducing journeys, rather than a fall in the price of petrol.
Another significant cost for families in 2012 was recreation and culture - which includes watching TV, using computers and going on holiday. Households coughed up £61.50 on average to indulge in these leisure activities, down from £64 in 2011.
Food and non-alcoholic drinks was the next most area of spending, costing £56.80 on average in 2012 – which was level with the previous year.
The amount spent on clothing and footwear increased in 2012, when £23.40 was spent, up from £21.90 per week spent in 2011.