21 Dec 2022

All wrapped up: Four in ten households to put heating on all day as a special Christmas treat

  • 38% of people will have heating on all day December 25 compared to just 15% for New Year’s Day
  • Households expect to pay average £212.40 more on energy bills this December versus 2021
  • 60% of households have heating on less than four hours a day as temperatures plummet
  • Nationwide urges members struggling financially to contact its dedicated cost-of-living helpline

Brits are planning to treat themselves this Christmas, with research revealing nearly four in ten households are set to switch the heating on all day on December 25 – despite the cost-of-living pinch.

Twice as many households (38%) will have their heating on all of Christmas day compared to 18 per cent on Christmas Eve, 20 per cent on Boxing Day, and only 15 per cent on New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve, according to a Nationwide poll of 2000 people across the UK1.

On average, households are currently putting their heating on for just five and a half hours per day, with fewer than three per cent putting it on for the full 24 hours.

The research1 was commissioned as part of Nationwide’s ongoing efforts to understand the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, as it continues to offer a dedicated cost-of-living helpline (0800 030 40 66) for its members (see below). Rising costs have forced many households to rethink how to heat and light their homes in order to save money, although the recent cold snap is likely to be the first real test of how many will cope with higher energy bills. According to the poll, households expect to pay an average of £212.40 more on their energy bills when comparing this December to December 2021.

Despite many households taking a decision to go ‘all out’ with heating their homes December 25, the survey highlights that many are concerned about energy costs and will do what they can to best manage the situation. Six in ten households currently have their heating on for less than four hours a day, despite sub-zero temperatures, while nearly four in ten (39%) say they need to reduce their other outgoings to cover their energy bills this winter. Over one in ten (12%) said they will have to increase their working hours and a third (33%) aim to borrow from either their bank, building society or use a credit card or overdraft.

It is perhaps this concern which is driving many people to become more familiar with their energy smart meters. On average, people check their meters four times a day, although more than one in ten (11%) do so up to ten times a day.

This cautious approach is leading to many households being in credit at this time, according to the poll. Almost two thirds (64%) are in credit on their energy bill, with 30 per cent of these households in credit by over £200. Close to two thirds (65%) have not taken a refund, instead retaining funds with their energy supplier as a financial buffer.

Mandy Beech, Nationwide’s Director of Retail Services, said: “The fact that many households are seeing heating their home as a treat on special days like Christmas shows just how much costs have increased this year. Our research shows how, as a nation, we’re much more cognisant around our energy bills and are focussed on doing what we can to keep the costs down. However, there will be some people who unfortunately don’t have the luxury of being able to put the heating on for a whole day.

“At this time, we’re urging our members who might be beginning to struggling financially to get in touch via our dedicated cost-of-living hotline. We have expert teams on hand to give the right level of support to those who need it – from help with products and services to forbearance for those experiencing financial hardship.”

Nationwide cost-of-living support:

Nationwide Building Society is supporting members struggling with the rising cost of living. A freephone cost-of-living hotline (0800 030 40 66) for those experiencing money worries. The service is supported by dedicated, trained experts based across the Society’s main branches. It is available from 9am-4.30pm weekdays and 9am-12pm Saturdays. Nationwide is aiming to answer calls to the hotline within ten minutes.

All frontline colleagues are trained to provide additional cost-of-living help for members, whether in branch or on the telephone. Face-to-face, telephone and video appointments are also able to be arranged. In addition, Nationwide is holding virtual and in-branch events for members, providing practical help with managing money and avoiding financial pitfalls.

Anyone in financial hardship should contact their bank or building society for support. See more at Cost of living | Nationwide.

Notes to editors

1 Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th December – 15th December 2022.  The survey was carried out online by Censuswide with 2001 participants. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

2 When to turn heating on - the best according to experts | Ideal Home