Brits waste £2.2bn on unnecessary heating

12 October 2017

Householders in the UK waste more than £2.2 billion a year heating their homes when they don’t need to, according to new research.

With an average heating bill of £747 a year, turning off the heating when not needed could save a household £82.52 a year.

On average, Brits leave their central heating on unnecessarily for six and a half hours a week, according to a poll conducted for Direct Line Home Insurance. Almost a fifth (18%) wasted energy for 10 hours or more each week. 

Around half (51%) of the 2,000 people polled admit that they heat their homes when they are out of the house and not returning or when it isn’t needed at all.

Householders, on average, heat their properties for almost 59 hours a week, with the heating on unnecessarily for 11% of the time.

According to the poll, Londoners are the most wasteful, using nine hours of unnecessary heating each week, followed by Northern Ireland, with seven hours and 48 minutes. See table below for a regional breakdown.

Regional differences in hours of unnecessary heating per week



Hours of wasted heating a week



9 hours


Northern Ireland

7 hours 48 minutes


North West

6 hours 54 minutes


Yorks & Humber

6 hours 42 minutes



6 hours 24 minutes


South West

6 hours 06 minutes


East of England

5 hours 48 minutes


North East

5 hours 42 minutes


West Midlands

5 hours 42 minutes



5 hours 42 minutes


South East

5 hours 42 minutes


East Midlands

5 hours 36 minutes

Source: Direct Line Home Insurance 2017

North-South divide

While almost half of Brits (42%) first turn on their heating is October after an average temperature drop to 6.1⁰C, a quarter (27%) will wait the average temperature falls to 3.2⁰C, with people living in the South among the last to turn on their radiators.

This isn’t surprising given that it’s often colder up north, in Northern Ireland and in Scotland than in the South - so much so that 78% of those who live in Northern Ireland and 75% of Scottish householders turn on their heating in October. This compares with 53% in the South.

And while the average UK household keeps the heating on for 5.4 months of the year, in Northern Ireland this rises to 7.1 months a year and 6.6 months in Scotland.

Splashing out

The survey also revealed that Brits waste their hot water, leaving it on for five and a half hours every week, while more than two thirds (67%) of people admit to leaving lights on unnecessarily and 3% say the accidentally leave on the hob or oven.

Jenny Trueman, head of connected homes at Direct Line, says that people should take advantage of the ‘smart’ ways to control their heating to save money and energy.

“Wasted energy doesn’t just cause financial strain but also has an environmental impact, so we all have a responsibility to make sure that we use resources responsibly,” she says.

“We encourage householders to consider the home technologies available to manage their homes more efficiently. These technologies can also help with safety in the home as lighting can be turned on ready for your return and cameras and alarms to remotely monitor who enters your property.”


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

There is nice solution to the problem: Wiser Heat - replace your primitive thermostat with the controller box, install smart valves on your radiators and control heating in your home using an app on the smartphone. All that much cheaper than Nest or Hive.

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