About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

The innovation charity, Nesta, has called for the Government to set a target to reduce household energy demand by 20% in time for next winter, to help people through the cost of living crisis.

Ravi Gurumurthy, Chief Executive of Nesta and former Director of Strategy at the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, said:

“A lack of immediate government action will deepen the cost of living crisis and set the UK up for gas shortages. The scale of the crisis now requires a COVID-style response. In months, the Government created the infrastructure to roll out vaccines nationwide. We need a similar national campaign to help every household cut their gas use by 20%.

“The Government must provide further support to households to reduce the impact of the rising price cap and bills. But the problem is getting worse and not going away. Subsidies are vital but with a series of difficult winters ahead, hand to mouth policies are not enough.

“Alongside energy rebates, the Government should launch a national campaign to reduce gas use in homes over the next year. There are clear ways to achieve a 20% reduction, starting with changing the flow temperature settings on boilers, installing smart thermostats, and insulation. We have published an online tool to help consumers to turn down their flow temperature to reduce their gas use and bills, but the Government should help more people to take this step, such as through a national advice programme or energy advisers going door to door. Interest free loans should also be provided to encourage people to install smart thermostats, insulate their homes, and get other energy saving measures quickly. Insulation and smart heating controls should be provided to low-income households for free, funded by a levy on bills once prices have fallen back.

“These low or no cost measures suggest it is possible to reduce gas use in homes by 10% over the next few months, and by 20% by next winter. Taking action now could prevent gas shortages, as well as saving people hundreds of pounds on their energy bills.”

Nesta estimates that a 10% reduction in household gas use can be achieved through a combination of:

  • turning down the flow temperature of boilers can reduce gas use by up to 8%
  • smart thermostats like Nest can cut gas use by 4.5-5%
  • turning off preheat settings on combination boilers can cut gas use by up to 3%

Nesta estimates that 1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of gas could be saved over a year if just 1 million of the 15 million households with combination boiler turned down the flow temperature. Nesta has published a simple online tool that helps people to turn down the flow temperature of their boiler, which could not only reduce demand but also save people up to £130 on their energy bills over the next year.


Notes to editors

  • Nesta estimates that if 1 million homes with combination boilers reduced their flow temperature from 70C to 50C this would save 1 billion kWh of gas over a year.
  • Nesta estimates that households could save 8% (£130) on the average annual gas bill by lowering the flow temperature of their boiler from 70C to 50C, based on Cornwall Insight’s projected annual gas default tariff price cap from 1 October of £1,874.
  • Based on trials, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) estimated in 2017 that the Nest Learning Thermostat can save approximately 4.5-5% of total annual household gas consumption.
  • Nesta estimates that turning off preheat settings on combination boilers can cut gas use by up to 3% based on findings from the UCL Energy Institute’s research in 2019.
  • Ravi Gurumurthy joined Nesta as Chief Executive in December 2019. Ravi was previously responsible for the International Rescue Committee’s work in designing, testing and scaling products and services for people affected by crisis in over 40 countries. Prior to joining the International Rescue Committee in 2013, Ravi held a number of roles in the UK Government, including Director of Strategy at the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change and as a strategic advisor to the Foreign Secretary. Ravi led a number of major social and environmental reforms including the development of the world’s first legally-binding carbon emissions targets.
  • For more information on the analysis or to speak to one of the experts involved, please contact Kieran Lowe, Media Manager, on 020 7438 2576 or [email protected]. Spokespeople are available for broadcast interviews.
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