Only one in 10 people now see climate change as one of the top three threats facing the UK today – unemployment, inflation and the NHS were of far greater concern.

That might not be surprisingly given the current economic situation, but there are other worrying trends emerging in the DECC survey.

While the majority of people (82%) give a lot or a fair amount of thought to energy saving, few are turning this into action. Over half (53%) leave the heating on sometimes when they are out and 64% still boil the kettle with too much water in.

There is also a lack of understanding with some of the concepts related to energy saving, with 53% of the 2,121 respondents never having heard of smart meters.

Only 15% of people who have a smart meter refer to it daily. Energy companies have previously been criticised for providing poor information in relation to smart meters.

However, there was positive news with strong support for renewable energy. Solar had the most support (83%), compared with off-shore wind (76%), wave and tidal (75%), on-shore wind (66%) and biomass (64%). On-shore wind had the highest levels of opposition, but this only stood at 12%.

Nuclear power was also considered to be a solution to the country’s energy needs – 29% said that the benefits outweighed the risks, while 32% felt the risks and benefits were about the same. Some 30% said the risks outweigh the benefits.

The results are part of a huge new initiative by DECC to track consumer attitudes and understanding of the department’s main business priorities.

The results show there is still a long way to go to change people’s habits. But concern about job cuts and household bills could be eased if government “gets behind a green economy” said WWF-UK’s head of business and industry Dax Lovegrove.

Speaking to edie about the findings, he said: “If you look at the industries around the globe currently enjoying unprecedented growth, cleantech is right up there and this provides substantial opportunities for creating green jobs while also fending off rising energy bills from increasingly volatile fossil-fuel costs.

“Businesses are in a strong place to capitalise on the fast growth in cleantech through the provision of new and exciting green energy services while simultaneously driving more climate-conscious customers via smart marketing campaigns.”

The survey will run four times a year and DECC said the full value of the findings will “only be apparent when we have a number of waves of data”.

edie staff

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