Energy Conscious Capitals
Which cities are the most energy conscious?
With the growing concerns of climate change and increasing energy bills in the UK, more Brits are conscious about their energy use. Some of us are searching for energy-conscious upgrades, like energy-efficient home improvements, lowering energy bills and underfloor heating. While others are switching to low-emission vehicles and recycling more.
We wanted to find out which UK cities are the most eco-conscious, so we looked at Google searches, recycling rates, zero-waste shops and vegan restaurants from each major city in the nation.
The most energy-conscious cities in the UK
1. Cambridge | Environmentally conscious score: 8.22/10
Cambridge ranks as the UK’s most environmentally conscious city. Known for its bike-friendly and walkable streets, it’s no surprise that Cambridge is the most eco-conscious location on our list. Cambridge ranks in the top three among the cities that search the most for renewable energy, reducing energy bills and energy efficiency home improvements like underfloor heating and heat pumps. Cambridge also ranks in the top-10 for the cities with the highest recycling rate, at 49.6%. The city has more vegan restaurants for its population than most cities on our list, at 3.35 per 100,000 people.
2. Norwich | Environmentally conscious score: 7.91/10
Norwich ranks in joint second place as one of the UK’s most environmentally conscious cities. With 2,529.5 searches for every 100,000 of the population, the people of Norwich make more Google searches for energy efficiency than most other cities. Norwich has 5.52 vegan restaurants per 100,000 people, ranking third in this category, and one zero-waste shop per 100,000 people. It’s evident that those in Norwich are more energy conscious than most, with the Norwich Council pledging to invest £5.9m in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in 2022-2023 and aiming to achieve net-zero by 2030.
3. Bath | Environmentally conscious score: 7.91/10
In joint second place, Bath is one of the most energy-conscious cities in the UK. People in Bath made around 2,431 Google searches last year for energy improvements. Bath has more zero-waste refill stores than any other city on our list, at 3.78 per 100,000 people and has a recycling rate of 59.2%.
The least energy-conscious cities in the UK
1. Sunderland | Environmentally conscious score: 2.3/10
Sunderland is the UK’s least environmentally conscious city according to the factors we looked at. Sunderland ranks in the top 10 for energy-related searches, however, ranks low in all of the other factors we considered. The city has a recycling rate of 28.1% and just 0.21% of all registered vehicles are ultra-low emission vehicles.
2. Coventry | Environmentally conscious score: 2.39/10
Coventry is among the least eco-conscious cities on our list. Coventry has no zero-waste refill shops according to Eco Thrifty Living, and just 1.03 vegan restaurants per 100,000 of the population. There were around 1,291 Google searches from Coventry in the last year for energy-saving improvements.
3. Kingston upon Hull | Environmentally conscious score: 2.61/10
In third place for least energy-conscious cities, is Kingston upon Hull with a score of 2.61 out of 10. There were around 1,470 annual Google searches for energy improvements like water underfloor heating. Kingston upon Hull has no zero-waste shops and just 0.31% of licensed vehicles are ultra-low emission vehicles.
The top 10 energy-conscious Google searches
1. Smart Meter: 408,500 Google searches
2. Install Solar Panels: 106,700 Google searches
3. Smart Thermostat: 106,100 Google searches
4. Smart Bulbs: 76,600 Google searches
5. Install Smart Meter: 59,400 Google searches
6. Energy Saving Tips: 23,390 Google searches
7. How To Get A Smart Meter: 14,860 Google searches
8. Energy Efficient Boiler: 7,970 Google searches
9. How To Reduce Energy Bills: 5,960 Google searches
10. Underfloor Heating Pros And Cons: 4,760 Google searches
The most popular energy-conscious search term we looked at is “smart meter”, with more than double the number of searches for “install solar panels”. People in the UK searched on Google for “smart meter” around 408,500 times in the past year. Adding a smart meter to your home means you could get more accurate energy readings, and it could help you manage your usage and lower your energy bills.
Among the top-10 search terms on our list is “underfloor heating pros and cons”, with 4,760 Google searches in the past year. The high number of searches for underfloor heating shows those across the nation are searching for energy-efficient home improvements that can help save the planet and help you save money. Water underfloor heating can be run by using a conventional gas, oil or solid fuel boiler or a heat pump. Helping you save money, underfloor heating loses less heat through transfer pipes, improves heat distribution in your home and can even increase your home value. As an investment that pays off, underfloor heating is more efficient than using radiators to heat your home and could help lower your energy bills.
The city with the most energy-conscious searches - Lincoln: 2,820 per 100,000
Lincoln ranks in first place as the most energy-conscious city according to Google searches in the last year. The people of Lincoln made 2,820 searches per 100,000 people for terms like energy efficient boilers, lowering your energy bill and smart meters.
Which UK city recycles the most? - Newport: 67.2%
Newport has the highest recycling rate of all cities on our list, with 67.2% of collected household waste sent for recycling or composting. More ambitious than most cities on our list, Newport is aiming for a 70% recycling rate by 2025.
Which city uses the most ultra-low emission vehicles? - Leicester: 1.77%
Leicester ranks in first place for the highest percentage of ultra-low emission vehicles, at 1.77% of all licensed vehicles.
Which city has the most zero-waste shops? - Bath: 3.78 per 100,000 people
Bath has more zero-waste and refill shops than any other UK city on our list, at 3.78 for every 100,000 people.
Which city has the most vegan restaurants? - Brighton & Hove: 11 per 100,000 people
Brighton and Hove is the best UK city for vegans who care about the planet. The city has 11 vegan restaurants per 100,000 people.
We looked at all cities in the UK with a population above 100,000 people, sourced from City Population in May 2022.
We used Google Keyword Planner to find the total number of searches for a list of 52 search terms. The search terms we used are related to topics including energy efficiency, underfloor heating, smart home devices and renewable energy among others. We took the total number of searches for each UK city between May 1 2021 and April 30 2022.
The recycling rate for each city was sourced from The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, StatsWales, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, using the percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting.
The percentage of ultra-low emission vehicles was sourced from the Department of Transport and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, using the number of licensed ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) by fuel type, keepership and upper and lower tier local authority from 2021 Q4 as a percentage of the number of licensed vehicles by body type and upper and lower-tier local authority from 2021 Q4.
The number of zero-waste shops per 100,000 people was sourced from Eco Thrifty Living in July 2022.
The number of vegan restaurants per 100,000 people was sourced from Happy Cow in July 2022.
We gave each city a normalised score out of 10 for each factor, then took an average of these scores to form our “environmentally conscious score”.