The average household is now spending more on electricity than gas, and electricity is three times more expensive than gas at the meter: *HEFF 2013, P94, so focussing on reducing electricity use can have a significant impact on your bills. In addition, since electricity production is more carbon-intensive than gas, saving electricity will also have a greater impact on your carbon footprint.
Even if your very old appliance is still working, it can be sensible to replace it with a brand new, super-efficient one, as the running costs are so much lower. Use the EU energy labels that are on an increasing number of appliances, when buying new – they are now on TVs for instance. There is often a factor of two between the electricity consumption of the best and worst models, of the same size, on the market. The EU energy labels are based on the amount of energy used per unit of service, eg kWh per litre of the interior of the fridge or per kg of clothes in the drum of a washing machine. This means that large appliances are more energy efficient than small ones, but also that they use more energy – check the figure for total energy use per annum as well. Be wary of buying bigger than you actually need.
If you are planning to replace old appliances to save energy, remember that some appliances are more energy hungry than others: www.cse.org.uk/downloads/advice-leaflets/energy-advice/advice_leaflet_what_uses_watt.pdf
If you have solar panels, remember to run the washing machine/dishwasher etc when the sun is shining! See the CSE leaflet on getting the most out of your solar panels.
- Check your electricity meter – the average UK household uses about 10kWh per day, averaged across the year, which includes some water heating, the pump on the central heating and so forth. With careful use and efficient equipment, this can be reduced to 6kWh per day or less.
- If you have a display, like an Owl or one that comes with a smart meter, you can work out which appliances are using the most power, at any time. For instance the electric kettle uses 3000W, whereas turning on the bedside light (1 x 5W LED) is only 5W. It also helps you to identify appliances using power which you may be unaware of, ie the baseload, and that are probably not turned off when you go to bed. Some of these are necessary, like the freezer, but there may be many other items on standby (clocks on microwaves, digi boxes that never go off). See what you can track down and turn off. Some old Sky boxes use 36W, which is over £40 a year if never turned off.
- When you are familiar with what you use, you can check with your display before you go out or on holiday to make sure you haven’t left anything on by mistake.
- Good maintenance can limit your running costs, for instance:
- defrosting the freezer regularly;
- keeping the back of the fridge and the freezer dust free and making sure the door seals are tight.
- keep all cold appliances (fridges and freezers) away from sources of heat, e.g. do not place where they will be in the sun, or next to the cooker. Make sure that the air can circulate freely around the appliance and that there is a way for the extracted hot air to escape. For instance, put holes above the back of the appliances in any fixed kitchen unit.
- if you use a tumble dryer, make sure your washing machine has a fast spin and has extracted the maximum amount of water first.
- if the transformer on your radio or mobile charger is hot, it is using electricity, even if it is not switched on.
- the modem and router have high standby demand, so turn them off when you can [p68 of HEFF 2013]
- over a year, the fax or printer can use more energy in standby than in use [p68 of HEFF 2013]
- Under EU regulations, since Dec 2012, the standby on appliances is limited to a maximum of 1W [*HEFF 2013, p15, footnote 9]
*HEFF 2013 = Home Energy Efficiency Fact File, DECC and CAR