The UK’s most ‘future-forward’ cities

The past year has seen more and more people doing their bit to go green and help prevent climate change, both in their lifestyle choices and decisions about their homes.

We wanted to discover which places in the UK are leading the charge on eco-friendly living; looking at which cities lead the most sustainable lifestyles and have the most energy-efficient, eco-friendly homes.

How homeowners made their homes more eco-friendly in the run up to 2021

Energy-saving home improvements rose significantly in 2020. UK homeowners made a conscious effort to help tackle climate change by reducing their carbon footprint, while also shaving thousands of pounds off their energy bills.

UPVC windows and doors were the most popular eco upgrade, followed by double glazing and living roofs.

Top 10 eco jobs posted to Rated People (ranked by % of total number of eco jobs)

1. UPVC windows and doors – 40%
2. Double glazing – 20%
3. Living roof – 8%
4. Electric underfloor heating – 7%
5. External wall insulation – 4%
6. Thermal insulation – 3%
7. Water underfloor heating – 3%
8. Roof insulation – 2%
9. Cavity wall insulation – 2%
10. Electric car charging point installation – 1%


As part of our research, we also wanted to find out which cities had the most eco-home upgrades and where in the country people lead the most eco-friendly lifestyles.

We scored UK cities against a set of 34 ‘eco criteria’ to do with how eco-friendly homes and lifestyles are around the country – ranging from how many people eat less meat these days, to how many homes have double glazing and extra insulation installed.

The findings show that Edinburgh takes the top spot overall for the UK’s most ‘future-forward’ city, followed by Plymouth and Norwich.

We used a point system to rank cities, based on the percentage of homes that have eco-friendly qualities such as double glazing and solar panels, alongside ‘good for the planet’ lifestyle factors like recycling, lower meat consumption, and cycling to and from work rather than driving.

UK cities with the most eco-friendly homes

To determine which UK cities have the most energy-efficient homes, we analysed 20 eco-friendly household factors, such as having a smart meter, double glazing and solar panels. 

The eco study revealed that Norwich is home to the most eco-friendly properties, followed by Cardiff, Glasgow and Liverpool.

Top cities for each eco home measurement

We also looked at which cities ranked best for our 20 eco-household measurements. The map below shows the top location for each eco upgrade, based on the percentage of locals who had them in their homes.

Energy-efficient double glazing is more common In Glasgow than the rest of the UK, with 72% of homes enjoying the eco upgrade. 38% of Cardiff homes have extra insulation, more than any other city in the UK, whilst Edinburgh is top for smart meters, where 35% of homes have one. Sheffield takes the lead in energy efficient appliances, with 21% upgrading to more efficient models in the past five years.

UK cities with the most sustainable lifestyles

The research also reveals the cities whose residents lead the most sustainable lifestyles, based on 14 eco-measurements such as lower plastic usage, donating used clothes and using eco-friendly household products.

Plymouth was found to be the city with the most sustainable residents, followed by Edinburgh, Southampton, Norwich and Nottingham.

Top cities for each eco lifestyle measurement

We looked at which cities ranked best for each of our 14 eco-lifestyle measurements, from donating clothes to charity, to making their own compost. These are the top locations for each of the 14 eco lifestyle behaviours, based on the percentage of locals exhibiting each.

The environmental benefits of a diet containing less meat has not been lost on Edinburgh’s residents, with almost half (46%) saying they eat less meat than they did before.

Meanwhile, 72% of Plymouth residents have reduced their plastic usage, more than any other city in the UK. 52% of Brightonians buy second hand, leading the way for sustainable shopping, whilst those in Bristol are most likely to be part of a tree-planting initiative (22%).

To see all the different eco criteria and how each city compares, see our research here.

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What are your home improvement goals for 2021? Whether you’re planning a big renovation or smaller upgrades, share your ideas with us on our social media:

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The Rated People Home Improvement Trends Report: 2021

We’ve analysed over 500,000 jobs posted on Rated People, spoken to thousands of UK homeowners, trawled through Google search data and studied over 100 Instagram posts to deliver the latest home improvement trends right into your hands. From beautiful interiors to innovative renovations, discover some of the best ways to upgrade your home in our new guide.

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