How to use less electricity Money-saving tips
Using less energy isn't just better for the environment – it will save you money. The average household could save between £150 and £300 per year by installing energy-efficient measures, according to The Energy Saving Trust.
How much money can I save?
Even without buying new energy-efficient appliances, changing the way you use them can save you quite a lot. For example, tumble drying clothes can cost up to £131 per year if your machine isn't particularly efficient. You can cut this by following some simple energy-saving tumble drying tips.
Leaving all your appliances in standby costs the average UK household £35 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Although new models are much more energy efficient, remember to unplug older inefficient equipment to cut this down. See our home entertainment page for more information.
Replacing energy-guzzling traditional light bulbs with new energy saving equivalents will add to your savings.
Monitoring how much electricity you use and making sure you are getting the best deal are also effective ways to help you cut back.
Compare energy suppliers to the best energy deal
To make sure you're not losing money by paying more than you have to for gas and electricity, use our switching service Which? Switch to compare prices.
- Saving: The average annual saving using Which? Switch is £217.
Use low-energy light bulbs
Changing traditional light bulbs to energy-saving equivalents can make a big difference to your bills. Since September 2012, shops can no longer sell traditional incandescent bulbs for household use, but many homes still use them. Traditional bulbs last for an average of one year but energy-saving bulbs can last up to 10 years. Some LED bulbs can even last 25 years. Discover the best and worst energy-saving light bulbs in our reviews section.
Traditional 40W, 60W and 100W bulbs have equivalent low-energy versions which are rated approximately 8W, 10W and 15-20W respectively. By replacing a 40W traditional bulb with an 8W low-energy one, you have immediately cut your lighting electricity use by 20%.
Lighting your home accounts for 18% of the average person's electricity bill so it's easy to see how savings can add up. Find out more in our guide to saving money with low-energy light bulbs.
- Saving: For each light bulb replaced with an energy-saving equivalent you can save around £3 per year, or £55 over the life of the bulb, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Also, remember to turn off lights in rooms you are not using. Turning off a light for a few seconds will save more energy than it takes the light to turn on again.
Monitor your electricity use
An energy monitor is a small simple gadget that estimates in real time how much energy you're using in your home. It shows how different appliances affect your consumption and, ideally, how you could cut your bills.
Read about the best and worst models and how they could save you money in our energy monitor reviews.
- Saving: An energy monitor won't save you electricity itself but it will show where you could make savings and let you see the impact when you change your habits.
Make your own electricity
Though it takes time to recoup the installation cost, if you want to go the extra mile for energy efficiency, you could try producing your own electricity. Solar panels can generate electricity (solar PV panels) or, for a much lower initial cost, just help you heat water (solar thermal panels) - this can slash your water heating bill by a third. Find out whether solar panels are a good investment for you in our solar panel guide.
A financial incentive, the Feed-in Tariff, pays you to generate electricity using solar PV panels. You could make around £12,000 over 20 years (although you should take into account repaying the cost of buying the panels which could be around £7,600) .
Small domestic wind turbines are much cheaper to install; around £2,000 (1kW roof-mounted turbine) so have shorter payback periods than solar panels. The average wind speed around your house is key to how your small domestic turbine will perform. For most people in the UK, it won't be worth it. Find out more in our wind turbine guide.
- Saving: An average solar PV installation (3.5kWp costing £7,600) positioned on an optimum roof could save £82 on energy bills annually and earn £518 in tariffs.
Other ways to save
Buy energy-efficient appliances. Up front cost should not be the only factor to consider when you buy a new TV, fridge or tumble dryer. The annual running cost of appliances varies a lot and choosing the least efficient models could leave you hundreds of pounds poorer every year. For example, our tests reveal that tumble dryers can vary between £38 and £131 to run for one year.
- Saving: Up to £93 per year
Unplug your gadget chargers when you're not using them. If a charger feels warm when it's plugged in but not attached to a device, it's still using energy.
- Saving It costs less than a penny to charge a phone for eight hours, but unplugging the charger when not in use could make a big environmental impact if everyone does it.