Measuring the Consumer Response to the Energy Crisis in the Living Lab

The Living Lab is a test and demonstration environment with over 1,500 homes spread across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with a variety of tenures, property types and demographics.

Many Living Lab homes have room-by-room sensors  and all are digitally connected with an integration platform that is open, interoperable and scalable. This allows innovations to be tested will real consumers in real homes with a variety of  mainstream technology such as smart meters, IoT devices, smart heating controls, battery storage, solar PV and electric vehicle chargers.

From a sample of 36 homes in the Living Lab, we compared the total gas consumption during the period of 1st September to 31st October in 2021 and 2022, where the impact of external temperature on household gas consumption had been removed. We found that homes have consumed approximately 30% less gas during this period this year compared to last year (when energy prices were substantially lower). We further find, by estimating the gas consumed for home heating, that Living Lab participants are using 40% less gas for heating this year compared to last year during these months. These results indicate that external weather cannot account for the decrease in gas consumption seen over the period when gas prices have more than doubled.

Further analysis of gas smart meter data suggests that a minority of participants have delayed turning their heating on this year, with the proportion of people heating their homes in October being lower this year compared to last year, despite the external temperature at the location of each home being similar during October of 2021 and 2022.

Data from Tado sensors monitoring the temperatures of rooms within 85 Living Lab homes is used to measure the average internal temperature of homes. We find that homes are being kept approximately 0.6ºC colder, on average, during September/October this year compared to last year.

Key points

These results combined show that consumer behaviour has changed significantly during the energy crisis where consumers are using less gas and are keeping their homes at lower temperatures compared to before the energy crisis.

  • Living Lab homes used 40% less gas, on average, for heating during September/October this year compared to last year.
  • Living Lab homes were being kept approximately 0.6ºC colder on average during October this year compared to last year.
  • There is weak evidence for participants delaying turning their heating on this year, where their heating was already turned on by October last year.

By considering, and accounting for, the impact of external temperature on household gas consumption we show these results are not reflective of differences in external temperature between 2021 and 2022.


Figure 1: What impact has the energy crisis had on households heating?

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MEASURING THE CONSUMER RESPONSE TO THE ENERGY CRISIS: Investigation into how people in the Living Lab have changed the way they use energy to heat their homes

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