The energy crisis is hitting consumer budgets hard. Amid soaring gasoline prices and rising costs of living in general, many households are increasingly concerned about their energy bills.
The average European household will see its cost of living increase by around 7% this year, compared to what was expected at the start of 2021, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates.
This reflects the direct effect of rising energy prices as well as their impact on other goods and services, according to the organization.
Things hit a new low in the UK last week, with energy regulator Ofgem raising the energy price cap by 80% to £3,549 (€4,098) a year for the average household at from October, in a blow to already beleaguered consumers.
In this context, small actions like switching off appliances at home are overshadowed by larger factors beyond the control of the average consumer – but actions at home are also increasingly at the forefront of their minds, as people are trying to cope with the rising cost of living. .
With energy prices soaring, it’s worth knowing where you could save money.
We take a look at how energy is used in a typical household, which appliances use the most energy, and how much they could cost you.
Where is your energy consumption going?
First, it’s worth understanding a little about how energy consumption is typically distributed in an average household.
For example, heating is by far the biggest household energy consumer in the European Union. Conversely, the energy used for things like keeping the lights on or cooking is a much smaller fraction of the pie in comparison.
In 2020, the main energy consumption of households in the EU was home heating (62.8% of final energy consumption in the residential sector), according to Eurostatthe statistical office of the European Union.
Together, space and water heating accounted for 77.9% of the final energy consumed by households.
In contrast, electricity used for lighting and most electrical appliances accounted for 14.5% (which excludes the use of electricity to power major heating, cooling or cooking systems).
Major cooking appliances accounted for 6.1% of household energy consumption, while space air conditioning covered 0.4%.
So it’s definitely worth thinking about ways to better insulate your home to minimize heat loss or turn down the thermostat.
Even turning the heating down by 1 degree Celsius can lead to energy and cost savings (about £128 (€148) a year, according to an estimate by energy experts on price comparison site uSwitch.
Professionally insulating your home helps reduce heat loss, but even small measures to insulate your home, such as draft-proofing gaps, could potentially save you £45 (€52) per year, according to the UK’s Energy Saving Trust.
Homes can lose heat due to drafts around doors and windows, gaps around the floor or through the chimney.
The organization founds savings calculations on a typical three bedroom gas heated house in Britain, using a gas price of 7.4p/kWh and an electricity price of 28.3p/kWh (based on April price cap 2022).
Technologies like smart thermostats and smart meters can also help ensure you’re not heating an empty home and help you see where you’re using the most energy.
Although heating accounts for by far the majority of a typical household’s energy consumption, it can also be useful to know which of your household appliances use the most energy.
Topping the list are washing machines, dishwashers and dryers, which account for 14% of a typical energy bill, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Again, there’s a connection to heating, as the power required to heat the water these devices use drives up consumption, making them energy-hungry appliances, the organization explains.
This estimates that a 7kg washing machine used 220 times a year typically costs between £25 and £35 (€29 to €40) per year.
You can save money by using your washing machine more carefully, the organization explains.
He suggests running your washing machine on a 30-degree cycle rather than higher temperatures, and reducing your washing machine use by one cycle per week for a year.
Kitchen appliances, shower time
Next come fridges and freezers, which account for around 13% of the average household energy bill according to the Energy Saving Trust.
As these devices stay on all the time and are some of the longest lasting appliances in the home, there is a big upside to investing in energy efficient versions.
Meanwhile, around 4% of your energy bill is spent on powering kitchen appliances, including the hob, oven, kettle and microwave, the organization says.
He recommends considering using a microwave, which can be more efficient than ovens for cooking because they only heat the food and not the air space inside.
When it comes to the bathroom, limiting your shower time to just 4 minutes could also save a typical UK household £70 (€81) a year on their energy bills, according to calculations by the Energy Saving Trust.
Tackling the “ghost drain” of vampire electronics
Another small step towards controlling your energy use is to tackle “vampire electronics” – devices left on standby that suck energy even when not in use. The Energy Savings Trust estimates that UK households can save around £55 (€64) a year by remembering to switch appliances off in standby mode.
And according to energy supplier British Gas, vampire appliances suck around £2.2bn (€2.5bn) a year from UK households.
The organization provides some tips to fix this: turn off devices to mains power rather than putting them to sleep when not in use, and when buying a new product, try to select one that is listed as having low power consumption in standby mode. .