Skip to content

Climate Week – Changing Spending Patterns of Households, 2013 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 01 March 2013 Download PDF

Abstract

This short story presents households’ consumption of vehicle fuel, air travel, gas and electricity because of the impact they have on household carbon emissions. Estimates of the amount of each good and service consumed are compared with price changes for that good/service.

Key Points

Household’s purchases of vehicle fuel and air travel have shown different patterns over the last ten years, according to analysis published today by the Office for National Statistics.

The release, published to mark the start of Climate Week (4 to 8 March 2013), shows:

  • UK Households’ consumption of vehicle fuel remained relatively flat between 2002 and 2007, and then fell by 20% per head in the next five years.

  • Despite a strong fall of 23% between Q4 2007 and Q4 2008, UK Households travelled more by air in Q3 2012 than in Q3 2002 (an increase of 13% per head).

  • UK Households’ consumption of electricity and gas has remained relatively flat since the recession.

These data show that households are travelling by air more than ten years ago, but reducing their consumption of vehicle fuel.

Climate Week: ONS data shows households cut back on vehicle fuel but not air travel or gas.

Lower consumption of fuel by households is more environmentally friendly.  Between Q3 2002 and Q3 2012 households consumption of vehicle fuel fell by 18% per head. However, during this period there have been strong price effects. Department of Energy and Climate Change data shows that the annual price per litre of petrol and diesel almost doubled (rising 85% and 88% respectively) between 2002 and 2012.

Between Q1 2002 and Q1 2008 quarterly spending by UK households on vehicle fuel increased from £84 per head to £130 per head. The per head spend then fell to £103 in Q1 2009. Between Q2 2009 and Q3 2012 households’ quarterly spending per head on vehicle fuel increased from £111 to £129 even though the amount of vehicle fuel purchased fell by 18%. This shows that households spent more for less vehicle fuel over the period.

Households’ consumption of vehicle fuels will be influenced by a number of factors: the price of fuel, household income, the price of vehicles and their fuel efficiency to name but a few. Changes to car tax (cars with higher CO2 emissions incur a higher tax) and increasing fuel prices will have influenced consumers’ decisions on fuel purchases and the purchase of greener, more efficient cars.

The trends are very different for air travel compared with vehicle fuel. Between Q1 2002 and Q4 2007 households’ consumption of air travel went up by 42% per head. It then fell steeply by 23% between Q4 2007 and Q4 2008. This shows that in the five years before the recession the amount of air travel households purchased grew strongly, however it has failed to recover from the sharp fall. Household consumption of air travel only increased by 3% per head between Q4 2008 and Q3 2012, but is still 13% higher than in 2002.

Between Q1 2002 and Q2 2007 quarterly spending by UK households on air travel increased from £43 per head to almost £65 per head. The per head spend then fell along with the volume of air travel purchased. However, between Q4 2008 and Q3 2012 households quarterly spending per head on air travel increased from £55 to £58 (an increase of 6%) even though the amount of air travel purchased only increased by 3%. This shows that households spent more for less air travel over the period.

Figure 1: Household Purchases of Vehicle Fuels and Air Travel

Figure 1:  Household Purchases of Vehicle Fuels and Air Travel
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Households’ consumption of gas has increased by 7% per head in the last decade.  This increase has taken place at the same time as there have been large price increases, meaning that households quarterly spending per head in Q3 2012 has almost tripled compared with Q3 2002.

One of the alternative energy sources to gas in the home is electricity. Between Q3 2002 and Q3 2012 households’ consumption of electricity fell by 7.3% per head. However, price changes have meant that quarterly spending per head has almost doubled.

Statistical Contact

For information about the content of this publication, contact Gareth Clancy
Tel: +44 (0)1633 45 5889
Email: consumer.trends@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Background notes

  1. Estimates used in this short story are from Consumer Trends Q3 2012 published 21 December 2012, and are consistent with the UK National Accounts.
  2. Consumer Trends Guidance Documents are available on the ONS website.
  3. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.