Energy saving tips

Saving energy in your home can help you save money and care for the environment too – by just making some small changes you can make a big difference.

GoCo author
Updated 27 September 2022  | 6 min read

How much energy does the average UK household use? 

The amount of energy you use will depend on several factors, including the number of people living in your home, how many appliances are used and the size of your property.

Typically, the energy sources used in homes are electricity and gas - how much your energy bills cost will depend on both the type of energy you use and the tariff you’re on. 

In the UK, the average annual domestic electricity bill in 2021 was £769, while the average annual gas bill was £586 - that’s a combined total energy cost of £1,355 a year.

With energy prices continuing to rise and the growing impact our energy use is having on the environment, it’s a good idea to look at how you can reduce the amount you use at home.

How to save energy 

By just making some small lifestyle changes you can make a big difference to your home’s energy consumption. 

Follow our nine simple energy-saving steps to help make your home more energy efficient and save you money:

1. Turn off standby appliances

Some devices still use small amounts of power on standby mode. 

Although things like fridges and freezers must always be left on, most appliances can be turned off without affecting their programming. If you’re not sure, always check with the manufacturer.

According to our research, here are a few household appliances commonly left on standby that could be unnecessarily increasing your annual energy bill:

Appliance Watts Annual energy cost
TV (Panasonic JZ2000 OLED) 10 £29.78
Xbox One 10 £29.78
Desktop computer 5 £14.89
Laptop 3 £8.94
Smarthome device (Google Home) 2 £5.96
Microwave (with display screen) 2 £5.96
Oven (with display screen) 2 £5.96
Landline phone (base) 2 £5.96
Coffee maker (with display screen) 1 £2.98
Computer screens 0.5 £1.49
Mobile phone charger (left plugged in to a fully charged phone overnight - around 8 hours) 0.5 £0.50
Total 38 £112.20
Based on the unit rate of Liz Truss’ energy price guarantee (34p/kWh or 0.034p/Wh) as published by Energy Saving TrustWattages sourced from industry averages and/or product specifications. Example: Xbox One (10 watts): 10 watts * 0.034p/Wh = 0.34p/Wh x 8760 hours/year = 2,978.4p/year = £29.78/year

To minimise your appliance's energy usage, you can try using standby saver devices – with these you can switch off several plugs in one go with a remote. Alternatively, smart plugs can also help to schedule and turn off your energy use.

2. Turn down your thermostat

You can help to reduce your heating bill by installing a room thermostat.

According to the Energy Saving Trust dropping the room temperature by just one degree can help you reduce your heating bill by around 10% a year.

Smart thermostats allow you to control the temperature and manage the heating from your smartphone or other device. So if you’ll be home later than planned you can delay the heating coming on to avoid wasting money (and energy).

3. Wash clothes at a lower temperature

The washing machine is one of the most used household appliances - the Energy Saving Trust found that it accounts for around 14% of total energy bill costs.

Lower temperatures use less energy - Which? found that turning the temperature down on your machine from 40°C to 20°C can reduce the running costs by around 62%. 

You should also try only washing your clothes when it’s really necessary, rather than after wearing them once. Instead, simply hanging them outside can help to freshen them up.                                              

4. Use water wisely

The less water you use the less energy you need to heat it, so try swapping a bath for a short shower - Ofwat say a five minute shower uses about 50% of the water volume of a standard bath. 

Fitting a water efficient shower head could help even further and save a four person household up to £45 a year on gas according to the Energy Saving Trust, as well as reducing water bills if you have a water meter.

To cut down your usage, use a bowl of water instead of leaving the tap running to clean your dishes. And wait until your dishwasher and washing machine are full before turning them on, as half loads use more than half the energy and water of a full load.

5. Monitor your energy usage

You may not be aware of when and how much energy you’re using - for example, even chargers that are switched on but not connected to devices are still using electricity. 

Installing a smart meter can show you information about your energy consumption and help you to see how much you’re spending, as well as sending readings directly to your supplier.

By keeping an eye on your energy usage, you can start to see what’s using the most power and where you might be able to reduce it.

6. Draught proof your home

Losing heat from your home will make your energy costs higher - your home will take longer to heat and it’ll be harder to keep warm.

To prevent this, look at where heat might be escaping from your property. The Energy Saving Trust found that draught proofing your windows and doors could save you up to £60 a year

A quarter of heat is lost through the roof in an uninsulated home. Making sure your loft’s insulated can make a big difference and could save you as much as £330 a year using 270mm thick insulation in a mid-terrace house.

7. Buy efficient appliances

Some household appliances are particularly prone to using a lot of energy.

Appliances are rated on an energy saving scale from A to G, and A+++ is the most efficient rating. Choosing the right model and efficiency level can help you save money on your bill.

Replacing your light bulbs with LED alternatives is another way to reduce your household energy costs and could save you around £65 a year.

8. Install a new boiler

As heating and hot water can account for more than half of your energy usage, having an efficient boiler can make all the difference to how much you pay.

A boiler’s efficiency usually decreases as it gets older, so if your boiler’s 15 years old or more, or you notice the bills creeping up, you should think about replacing it.

Modern boilers are generally A-rated and operate at more than 90% efficiency so upgrading your boiler could help you save on your energy bills.

9. Invest in double glazing

If you have single glazed windows you’ll lose heat twice as fast from them as you would through double glazing.

Some of the heat in your home is lost through your windows, but by installing A-rated energy double glazing you can warm your house more efficiently and reduce your energy bills.

For example, installing A-rated double glazed windows to a single glazed semi-detached gas heated property could save you up to £195 a year

10. Consider how you pay for energy

Making regular monthly payments will help you stay up to date with your bills - convenient if you have a busy lifestyle - and you could even get discounts from most suppliers if you chose to pay by Direct Debit.

To set up a Direct Debit, contact your supplier and ask them about the benefits of paying by direct debit and the discounts they offer for choosing that payment method.

What can you do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bill?

Despite doing everything to reduce how much energy you’re using, you may still find it difficult to cover the cost of your bills due to the current cost of living crisis.

If this happens, it’s best to contact your energy supplier. They may be able to offer ways for you to reduce your bill and agree to a payment plan that you can afford.

Check your energy supplier’s code of practice to see how they can help people in times of hardship. There are also various home energy grants available that can help to reduce your bills if you’re eligible.

How to save on energy costs

“Saving on gas and electricity bills will be on everyone’s minds at the moment and as a comparison site, we’d usually be telling you to shop around to save money. But at the moment, there just aren’t competitive deals available on the market, but there are still some practical things you can do to cut costs.

“We have been recommending that people fix their energy tariffs – which protects you from further increases – but if your fixed deal has come to an end, your best option will be to stay on your supplier’s Standard Variable Tariff (SVT) as this will most likely be the cheapest deal available to you. One thing to remember is that, even though Ofgem aren’t due to change the Price Cap until October, the energy market is never static so it’s still worth checking comparison sites every few weeks, as the landscape can change quickly.”

Gareth Kloet – GoCompare energy expert