Skip to content

5 facts about household energy spending in the UK, 2002-2012

ONS looks at variation in gas and electricity spend over time

1. UK households spent more on household energy in 2012 compared with 2002, but used less

UK households spent an average of £106 a month on electricity, gas and other household fuels1 in 2012, compared with £69 a month in 2002 (adjusted to 2012 prices2), which was a 55% increase. Over this same time period, household energy use fell (DECC), with the average amount of energy used per household 17% lower in 2012 than in 2002. This means that the increase in the average household spend is explained solely by rises in energy prices.


2. Average household spending on gas increased 56%, while electricity increased 43% from 2002-2012

UK households using electricity spent an average of £51 a month in 2012, compared with £35 in 2002 (adjusted), which was a 43% increase. Households that used gas in 2012 were spending an average of £57 a month (adjusted) compared with £37 in 2002, a 56% rise. The larger increase in the average spend on gas is largely explained by the fact that gas prices have risen more sharply than electricity prices in recent years, rather than any changes in the amounts used.


3. The average household spent 5.1% of its income on household energy in 2012, up from 3.3% in 2002

While spending on energy has risen significantly between 2002 and 2012, households have not seen a comparable increase in their disposable income3. Between 2002 and 2007, the average household’s disposable income grew by 6.9% (adjusted), but since then has fallen by 6.7%. As a result of this, household energy spend is now equivalent to 5.1% of disposable income for the average household, up from 3.3% in 2002. Most of this increase occurred between 2004 and 2009, although the fall in disposable income since 2007 has increased the impact of recent energy price rises.


4. The poorest fifth of households spent 11% of their income on household energy in 2012, up 8% from 2002

In 2012, the poorest fifth of households spent £93 a month on household energy (equivalent to 11% of their disposable income), compared with £126 a month for the richest fifth (equivalent to 3% of their disposable income). This difference is likely to be partly explained by the poorest fifth of households having on average, fewer rooms than the richest fifth, which may have influenced their energy needs and therefore use. However, it’s likely a range of other factors also affected spending decisions and priorities.


5. Households in Northern Ireland have higher average energy spend than households in the rest of the UK

Considering the average household energy spend across the countries of the UK from 2010-2012, households in Northern Ireland were spending £154 a month on energy (adjusted). This was £42 higher than in Scotland, £49 higher than in Wales and £51 higher than in England. The higher average spend in Northern Ireland may be partly explained by the different nature and size of the energy market there. Due to a relatively limited gas network, many homes in Northern Ireland rely on oil-fired central heating, which is likely to lead to higher energy costs. The Northern Ireland House Conditions survey found that 68% of households used heating oil for central heating. Also, in those areas where mains gas is available, the market is not yet fully open to competition, with only a single supplier operating in some areas. 


Where can I find out more about household spending statistics?

This analysis was produced by the Household Income and Expenditure analysis team at ONS. The analysis is based on data collected from the Living Costs and Food Survey and published in the Household Energy Spending in the UK release. If you would like to find out more about the latest household spending statistics, you can read the release or visit the personal finances page. Further statistics on household spending are published in the ONS Family Spending release. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email us at:


1. These include coal, oil for central heating, paraffin and wood. Transport fuels (i.e. petrol and diesel) are not covered by this publication. 

2. All expenditure and income measures reported in this article have been deflated to 2012 prices using the all items Consumer Price Index (CPI).

3. The amount of money they have available for spending and saving after accounting for direct taxes (such as income tax and council tax).

Categories: Economy, Personal Finances, Consumers and Customers, Personal Expenditure, Personal Income and Wealth, Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Households, Income Inequality of Households, People and Places, Housing and Households, Households, Household Income and Expenditure
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.