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Advice on how to use heating controls

Evaluation of a trial in Newcastle

Heating dial
Published: September 2014


To find out whether tailored advice from a ‘trusted messenger’, such as an engineer, on how to use standard heating controls could reduce energy consumption in social housing in Newcastle. 

This research was commissioned by DECC.

Read the report or visit the DECC website to find out more about this study

Previous research suggests that households find their heating controls, programmers and thermostats confusing and difficult to use. As a result, energy may be wasted through overheating or by keeping heating on when homes or rooms are unoccupied. 


The research suggests that people found the information and advice helpful to improve understanding of how to use their controls. However, results of the trial show that this did not significantly reduce gas consumption during the trial period.


This research was carried out over a six month period between October 2013 and May 2014. Levels of gas consumption were compared to a group of tenants who received a simple leaflet alongside their boiler check, and a control group who received their gas boiler safety check as normal.

The trial was designed by DECC's Behavioural Insights Team and implemented by Newcastle City Council with the assistance of local partners. We conducted a process evaluation alongside the trial, which is also included in the final report.

Download the report