Top places to live in the UK for the most eco-friendly homes and lifestyle

Source: press release, 31 May 2021

Ahead of World Environment Day on 5 June, a new study calculated how eco-friendly homes and lifestyles are across the UK to reveal the most ‘future forward’ places to live around the country
Ahead of World Environment Day on 5 June, a new study calculated how eco-friendly homes and lifestyles are across the UK to reveal the most ‘future forward’ places to live around the country (illustration: Rated People)

New research from the find-a-tradesperson platform, Rated People reveals the places in the UK with the most eco-friendly homes, and where residents have the most sustainable lifestyles.

Edinburgh takes the top spot overall for the UK’s most “future forward” city, scoring highly for both eco-friendly homes and a sustainable lifestyle. Norwich is the top place in the UK with the most eco-friendly homes and Plymouth residents have the most environmentally friendly lifestyles in the country.

Future forward
The findings are taken from this year’s Rated People Home Improvement Trends Report, where different UK cities were scored against a set of 34 “eco criteria” ranging from how many residents now eat less meat, to how many homes have smart meters and electric car charging points – 20 of the measures relate to how eco-friendly our homes are, and the other 14 are connected to sustainable ways of living.

The top 10 most “future forward” places in the UK (and each city’s “future forward” score) are:

1. Edinburgh / 50.5
2. Plymouth / 50.2
3. Norwich / 48.4
4. Southampton / 48.2
5. Cardiff / 47.5
6. Nottingham / 47.1
7. Belfast / 46.1
8. Brighton / 45.7
9. Glasgow / 45.3
10. London / 45

Each city scored points according to the percentage of homes that had eco upgrades to increase their energy efficiency or how eco-friendly they are – from standard eco improvements like double glazing and extra insulation to less common additions like biomass boilers and wind turbines. Added to that, points were also on offer for the percentage of residents who said they do things like recycling, eating less meat and growing their own food.

In total, a maximum of 200 points were on offer, and Edinburgh, with a score of 50.5 overall, is the best place to live in the UK for an eco-friendly lifestyle and home.

The research also discovered that demand for eco-friendly home improvement jobs increased by a massive 41% in the run-up to 2021 and more than half (57%) of UK residents said they wanted to find ways to be more eco-friendly in the future. So, the report highlights the progress that’s already been made in the UK around living more sustainably, but it also shows there’s a strong appetite and lots of potential for more to be done – whether that’s making lifestyle changes or increasing the energy efficiency of our homes.

Eco-friendly homes
When looking specifically at how energy-efficient and eco-friendly our homes are, the research calculated how properties in the UK stacked up against the set of 20 “eco home criteria” – ranging from smart heating controls and energy-efficient lightbulbs to electric car charging points, smart meters and heat pumps.

The top 10 places in the UK with the most eco-friendly homes (and each city’s eco-home score) are:

1. Norwich / 15.1
2. Cardiff / 15
3. Glasgow / 14.9
4. Liverpool / 14.5
5. Edinburgh / 14.5
6. Nottingham / 14.2
7. Southampton / 13.8
8. Manchester / 13.8
9. Belfast / 13.8
10. Sheffield / 13.7

When looking at each city’s scores for eco-friendly homes, with a total of 100 points on offer, the individual scores may seem low – this is primarily because, alongside common measures like insulation and double glazing, the research also looked into how many homes have non-mainstream technologies, like heat pumps, biomass boilers and electric cars, which only a very small percentage of homes currently have.

Top cities for different eco home upgrades
Homes in Glasgow are the most likely in the UK to be double glazed, with 72% of homes kitted out with this eco upgrade. Cardiff homes are top for extra insulation, with 38% having it installed – more than any other city. For smart meters, it’s Edinburgh, with 35% of homes having one, and for energy-efficient appliances, Sheffield comes out on top, with 21% of homes replacing older, less efficient models within the last 5 years.

When it comes to less common ways to increase a home’s energy efficiency, Newcastle is the city with the highest percentage of homes to have biomass boilers, with 5% of properties fitted with one. For electric cars, it’s Belfast, with 6% of homes having one on the drive, and for heat pumps, it’s Liverpool, with 5% of homes using the eco-friendly heating alternative.

Sustainable lifestyles
Out of the 34 different eco measurements in total, 14 related to lifestyle, for example using less plastic, donating clothes instead of throwing them in the bin, or using eco-friendly cleaning products.

When looking at individual lifestyle factors, with almost half (46%) of Edinburgh’s residents saying they now eat less meat than they did before, the Scottish capital takes the top spot for decreasing the amount of meat in their diets.

Plymouth has reduced plastic use the most, with three quarters (75%) of residents saying they now use less plastic. More than half (52%) of Brighton residents say they buy second hand, making it the top city for sustainable shopping and Bristol is the top city when looking at how many people are part of a tree-planting initiative, with more than a fifth (22%) of residents saying they’re part of one.

Adrienne Minster, CEO at Rated People comments, “We often hear about the need to be kind to the planet and make eco-friendly choices. As well as lifestyle changes, one of the biggest ways we can have a positive impact is by making sure our homes are as eco-friendly and energy efficient as possible. That doesn’t mean we all need to build Grand Designs-style eco-homes though – there are lots of easy ways to increase your home’s eco-credentials without spending a fortune, like installing a smart meter, using smart heating controls or upgrading some of your appliances to more energy-efficient models when the time’s right.”

“Other energy-efficient home upgrades, like double glazing and extra insulation not only work to cut your carbon footprint, but they can also potentially shave thousands of pounds off your energy bill, so they’re great for the planet and good for your pocket!” Minster adds.

To see all the different eco criteria and how each city compares, visit