New poll: Three-Quarters of Scots limit energy use amidst concerns over high bills

Three-Quarters of Scots limit energy use

Glasgow, Scotland – March 04, 2024: Three-quarters of Scots are limiting their energy use so they can afford to pay for other household costs such as food.

A recent opinion poll conducted by Survation on behalf of Advice Direct Scotland  has revealed that a significant majority of households remain concerned about being able to afford gas and electricity this year, despite recent price falls, and there is widespread support across the country for a new social energy tariff.

Advice Direct Scotland, the country’s national advice service, is calling on the UK Government to use Wednesday’s budget to introduce an opt-out social tariff which would automatically put struggling households on the cheapest deal.

Key findings from the poll include:

Energy Usage Limitation: 76% of Scots have limited their energy usage over the past year, with half of them sometimes feeling cold in their homes as a result.

Worries about Affordability: 57% of respondents express worries about affording electricity, gas, or oil in the coming year.

Support for Social Energy Tariff: There is widespread support for a new social energy tariff, with 66% of respondents in favour of its UK-wide introduction. This tariff would automatically enrol struggling households on the cheapest energy deal, potentially alleviating financial burdens for those most in need.

Between October and December of the previous year, Advice Direct Scotland recorded a 125% increase in queries related to self-disconnection, indicating the severity of financial struggles faced by some households. A social energy tariff could be targeted at those most in need, with eligibility being determined by whether members of a household are in receipt of benefits or are on low incomes.

Andrew Bartlett, Chief Executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said:

“This poll indicates that hundreds of thousands of Scots are limiting their energy use so they can afford to pay for other goods such as food and are left suffering in the cold in their own homes as a result.

Andrew Bartlett on Social Tariffs

“For those on prepayment meters, the cost of energy has left many unable to afford a top-up, often leaving people in debt.

“While bills might have fallen from their recent peak, they still remain high – and a majority of Scots are worried about being able to afford this over the coming year.

“These findings confirm that the UK’s energy market is broken, and we need an opt-out social energy tariff to help the most vulnerable households.

“This has widespread public support, and the Chancellor should use this week’s budget to act.”

Hazel Knowles, Energy Lead for Advice Direct Scotland, added:

“Even with gas and electricity prices falling, bills remain significantly higher than they were before the cost-of-living crisis.

“It’s a good time to assess your current payments and check if there are any better options available.

Hazel Knowles on Social Tariffs

“Taking regular meter readings and checking the level of your direct debit are as important as ever, and if you have a smart meter, ensure it’s working.

“Nobody should struggle alone, and help is available – our service provides free, practical advice on the support and assistance available, such as grants, and ensures that people can access all entitled benefits.”


More information about Advice Direct Scotland’s campaign for a social energy tariff, including resources to support the campaign, can be found here: 

A PDF of Survation Scotland Survey conducted on behalf of Advice Direct Scotland can be downloaded here: Survation Survey: 14th to 20th February, 2024.

News on Advice Direct Scotland’s Social Energy Tariff Campaign can be found here: Advice Direct Scotland launches social energy tariff campaign

Advice Direct Scotland is a charity which runs the national advice service Advice is available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance. is available at and on freephone 0808 196 8660, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

The website also includes an online knowledge centre for Scots, with information on:

• Billing and meters

• Complaints and disputes

• Grants and assistance

• Scams and fraud

• Loss of energy supply

• Switching suppliers.

Free, impartial and practical advice is available to anyone in Scotland through Advice Direct Scotland’s service.

People can seek help in a number of different ways: freephone 0808 800 9060; and online, web chat and email at

Media Enquiries

Marc Roseblade - Head of Content, Media & Marketing

Marc Roseblade

Head of Content, Media and Marketing , Advice Direct Scotland
m: 07542 027083
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a: Mercantile Chambers, 39 ‑ 69 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, G2 6TS

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