Investigating the barriers and possibilities of lowering flow temperatures
The majority of gas boilers in the UK aren’t running as efficiently as they should. They’re burning more gas, creating more emissions and costing households more money than they need to. Our project is investigating how to encourage and support households to increase the efficiency of their existing gas boilers by lowering their flow temperature – the temperature at which the boiler sends water to the radiators. This could reduce household energy use by 6-8%.
This phase focused on developing a deeper understanding of the barriers households may face in lowering their flow temperature, as well as the most effective messaging to communicate the change, through an online experiment.
We ran an online experiment with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to:
A sample of 959 participants, representative of the UK's population in terms of gender, age, ethnicity and region of residence, were recruited from the Behavioural Insight Team's participant base. These participants were randomly assigned to see information about how lowering boiler flow temperatures could reduce energy use with a selection of messages:
There was also a control group that didn’t see any information other than how lowering boiler flow temperatures could reduce energy use. Participants were then asked whether they would consider changing their boiler settings and why they might be hesitant to do so.
Our online experiment found that people were very open to lowering their flow temperature. Not only did 92% of participants who saw the “save money” messaging say that they would do so, but 82% of participants in the control conditions said they would too.
Despite these positive indications, some important barriers were highlighted by participants, who said they were:
These barriers closely match the issues identified from our household interviews in the previous phase of this project so it’s particularly reassuring to have our initial findings backed up with a much larger sample.
We also found that people were more motivated to change their settings if shown information with a “you can save money” or “you might be losing money” message, compared to those who didn’t receive any information or saw a “small changes can make a big difference” narrative. This is important for communicating advice in the future.
"Over 80% of householders with combi boilers say they would change their boiler settings to save money."
Whilst consumers are keen to change their boiler settings, they don’t know how or what to do and they want certainty about how it will affect their bills. In the next phase of this project Nesta will: