How to use less electricity Measuring your energy efficiency
Do you know how much electricity you use at home every day?
The cost of boiling a kettle, turning on the lights or charging your mobile phone all add up and, with the price of electricity on the rise, there has never been a better incentive to start saving electricity.
As well as saving you money by cutting your electricity bills, becoming more energy efficient will also mean fewer fossil fuels are burnt. Burning fossil fuels to produce electricity increases carbon emissions, which are linked to climate change.
Measuring electricity efficiency
Electricity consumption is usually measured in kilowatt hours, or kWh for short. An electrical item rated at 1,000W switched on for one hour uses 1kWh of energy (1,000W = 1kW).
- A 20W CFL-type light bulb (equivalent to a 100W traditional bulb), on for one hour, uses 0.02 kWh of electricity
- A 10W CFL-type light bulb (equivalent to a 60W traditional bulb), on for one hour, uses 0.01 kWh of electricity
- A 10W CFL-type light bulb, on for two hours, uses 0.02 kWh of electricity
A good way to get a handle on how much electricity you are using is to set up an energy monitor - these handheld gadgets can tell you in near real-time exactly how much you're using in pounds and pence or kWh. Find out more about them in our energy monitors buying guide.
Electricity costs on your bills
Electricity suppliers sometimes refer to each kWh of electricity as a 'unit of electricity'. They have a charge for each kWh (or each unit) - this is currently around 16.41p.
So, having a 20W CFL bulb on for one hour uses 0.02 kWh of electricity – 0.33p. With many household bulbs, and indeed many electrical appliances, being on for several hours a day, it's easy to see how electricity costs can add up.
Most suppliers also have a daily standing charge for being connected to their electricity supply, before adding their charge per unit used. Some also charge a higher rate up to a certain amount of electricity use. Find out how much energy your home appliances use and how it adds up with our energy cost calculators.
Start saving electricity
There's lots you can do to start saving energy and money. As well as the household tips in this guide, you can also invest in more energy-efficient household appliances when it's time to replace them. Or, if you want to go straight to the heart of the problem, consider generating your own electricity or switching to a green electricity tariff.
But it's not all about grand gestures. Smaller changes, such as unplugging your mobile phone's charger when the battery is fully charged, may shave only a few pence off your electricity bill, but can have a huge impact on the environment if we all get in the habit.