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Average electricity usage in the UK: how many kWh does your home use?

By Celia Topping Thursday 18 March 2021

home lights family happy tent mum daughter

Have you ever wondered how much electricity the average UK home uses? And if you’re using too much, or paying too much? Or have you considered which appliances might be the major electricity guzzlers in your home? Smart meters and In-Home Displays have made it much easier to track our energy use these days. But not everyone uses these handy devices, even if they have one! 

So, let’s take a peek inside the average UK household, and see how much we spend on electricity. And, perhaps more importantly, which appliances we spend the most on. We’ll also compare UK energy use to different countries around the world. 

How much electricity (kWh) does the average home use in the UK? 

First up, what’s a kWh? Quite simply, it’s just the way energy is measured – in the same way that kgs measure weight. Energy suppliers use kWh to see how much energy you’ve used, and work out your bills. For example, using 1kWh, you could boil a kettle 10 times, or watch TV for 7 hours.

All the appliances in your home use energy, but some use more than others – so when you know how many kWh each one uses, you can better track your use, be more energy efficient, and cut your bills. 

UK household electricity use has been dropping over the last few years1, largely because we have more energy-efficient appliances. Smaller houses, better-insulation and warmer winters also play a role. According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the average household uses 3,731 kWh per year2.  

How does your home compare to others in the UK?

Just because an average UK household uses around 3,731 kWh/year, that doesn’t mean yours should! One of the problems with comparing yourself to an average household, is that the figure tends to be skewed by a small number of households using large amounts of electricity. 

With this in mind, it’s best to compare your own home’s energy use to a home of a similar size and type. Here are the averages by dwelling type in the UK:

As you’d expect to see from the data, bigger houses tend to use more electricity. 

Mid terraces and flats use the least electricity, both clocking in around 2,800kWh/year. End terraces use slightly more, with semi-detached homes next, followed by bungalows and detached houses at 4,153kWh. 

These figures don’t include heating. If your home uses electric heating, then the figures would obviously be much higher. Of course, knowing how you compare won’t help you reduce your electricity use that much. For that we’ll need to dig into the data a little more.

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What is a typical household’s electricity use?

Ofgem, the UK’s energy regulator, has produced the following Typical Domestic Consumption Values (TDCVs)for 2020. These estimates show how much electricity a UK home uses in average a year. 

As you can see from the table below, the data is divided into 2 profiles. There are, in fact, 9 profiles in total – but only the first 2 relate to domestic use. Profile 1 is Domestic Unrestricted, which most homes fall under. And Profile 2 covers Domestic Economy 7. Economy 7 users have a lower off-peak rate at night, when they pay less for their electricity. 

To find out more about Economy 7, take a look at our focused guides. 

Electricity: Profile Class 1 (kWh) Electricity: Profile Class 2 (kW)
Low - 1,800 Low - 2,400
Medium - 2,900 Medium - 4,200
High - 4,300 High - 7,100

From this, we can work out that in a house with medium electricity use, the average monthly electricity use is about 242kWh. (2,900kWh divided by 12 months).

How much electricity does a house use per day? 

It’s tricky to be precise with daily usage, because it depends on various factors – such as whether it’s midweek or weekend, how many people live at home, and the number of appliances in use, etc. The time of year is another factor. Darker, colder months mean higher energy bills than in summer, for example. 

Taking all this into consideration, household electricity use works out at around 8kWh (242kWh divided by 30 days) for a medium use household. 

How much is your energy use costing you?

Figures for average bills also vary massively. Again, it’s based on the size of the house, number of occupants, insulation levels, and even bill payment methods. Paying by Direct Debit, for example, is cheaper than paying by prepayment meter. Below is some useful data from UKPower, to show how bills can vary. 

To find out more about how you can benefit from a dual fuel tariff, or get the low-down on all the various other types of energy tariffs, check out our handy guides. And for more detailed info on average UK electricity and gas bills, this is the guide for you. 

What is an average dual fuel bill?

House type Monthly bill Quarterly bill Annual bill
1/2 bedroom house/flat £66 £199 £795
3/4 bedroom house £97 £291 £1,163
5+ bedroom house £137 £410 £1,639

Source: UKPower3

What is an average electric bill?

House type Monthly bill Quarterly bill Annual bill
1/2 bedroom house/flat £34 £199 £795
3/4 bedroom house £49 £291 £1,163
5+ bedroom house £137 £410 £1,639

Source: UKPower3

What is an average gas bill?

House type Monthly bill Quarterly bill Annual bill
1/2 bedroom house/flat £33 £98 £392
3/4 bedroom house £48 £143 £572
5+ bedroom house £66 £198 £793

Source: UKPower3

If you’re a little surprised by these averages, and feel you’re paying too much for your energy bills, check out how to compare energy suppliers, and how to switch energy suppliers, to help you get the best deal.

At OVO Energy, we only supply 100% renewable electricity4 – and we offer 3 to 5% Interest Rewards5 on members’ credit balances. Find out more about our energy plans, and start cutting your carbon footprint today, by making the switch

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How does the UK compare to other countries around the world?

This table shows the average electricity use per household worldwide (kWh) in 2018. 


As you can see from the table, the UK uses relatively little compared to other countries. In 2018 we used just under 4,000 kWh per household – which goes to show how much energy use has dropped in just 2 years. It’s incredible to see how the USA consumes about 3 times as much as we do. But the real energy-guzzler is plain to see. Saudi Arabia consumes almost 25,000kWh per household6

So why does Saudi Arabia use so much electricity? Well, with temperatures regularly rising above 40 degrees, you can bet most of that electricity goes on air-conditioning. And as you know, air-conditioning isn’t quite so essential back in Blighty! Plus, we have smaller homes, and we generally heat our homes with gas rather than electricity. 

To find out more about how much countries pay for their electricity, check out our blog post revealing which countries have the cheapest and most expensive electricity. 

When do we use electricity?

boys playing sofa home happy

The peak time for electricity use, as you’d expect, is between 6pm and 8pm. This is  when most people are cooking dinner, switching on lights, watching TV, and using various appliances around the home. 

Understanding when we use electricity and what we use it for, can be really helpful when you’re trying to be more energy-efficient. But what you may not yet know is that some appliances, like a TV or laptop, still use electricity, even when they’re on standby.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, an average home can spend £35 a year, just by leaving appliances on standby. Which is a total waste of energy, and money. So remember to unplug, or switch it off at the wall. 

Join OVO today and get insights into exactly where and when you use your electricity. Our smart meters and In-Home Displays give accurate information every half-hour7 – making it easy to see how you could save money on your bills. 

Get a quote 

How do we use electricity in the home?

Before we get into electricity use for individual appliances, it can be really useful to understand demand according to end use. This table shows just that8

End use Percentage of electricity

Cold appliances (fridges, freezers)

63%

Wet appliances (washing machines, dishwashers etc)

10%

Cooking (ovens, microwaves etc)

7%
Lighting (lamps and lights) 6%

Consumer electronics (TV, laptop, phone, games consoles etc)

4%


Consumer electronics, surprisingly, use relatively little electricity – but remember, it still helps to avoid standby mode! Now let’s take a look at how much your appliances are costing you per year. Unsurprisingly, cold appliances use the most energy.

That’s because by nature, they need to draw electricity constantly. Wet appliances are next, due to the large amount of power needed to heat up the water they use. Cooking appliances like ovens and microwaves are next, followed closely by lighting. It’s worth noting that lighting bills can be drastically reduced by using energy-saving LEDs

How much does it cost to run a TV?

How much electricity a TV uses will obviously depend on how much you watch it! But it also depends on the size of screen you choose. The bigger the screen, the more energy it uses. The Energy Saving Trust estimates an A-rated 60 inch TV would cost £39 a year to run. Whereas the equivalent rated 32 inch TV would cost only £12. But an A++ rated 60 inch screen would cost £20 less a year, and an A++ rated 32 inch would cost £6 less9.

How much does it cost to run a fridge?

Fridges and freezers are the only appliances in your home which need to be plugged in and working around the clock. So it definitely makes sense to get the most energy-efficient model. Electricity use varies greatly depending on size – and just so you know, it’s cheaper to run a fridge-freezer than two separate appliances. 

Fridge-freezers have become so much more energy-efficient in recent years. You could actually save up to £113 a year, just by switching to a more efficient model10

To find out more about energy-efficient fridges and freezers, see our useful blog. And for more info on energy ratings, we’ve something for you about that, too! 

How much does it cost to run a computer?

Working from home? A desktop computer uses around 0.1kWh per hour. So if you’re working for 8 hours, it’ll cost you around 10p per day (based on an average energy unit cost of 12.5 p/kWh). A laptop however, runs at 0.05kWh. So for that same working day, you’ll only pay 5p11.

How much do light bulbs cost to use?

It really depends on the bulb! A traditional incandescent bulb which uses 0.06kWh, used for 8 hours a day, would cost you £21.90 a year. LEDs on the other hand are much more cost-effective. You’ll pay around £6 for an LED that will last for years, and only use around 6kWh per year11

To find out all you want to know about energy-saving light bulbs, check out our guide. 

How much does it cost to run a washing machine?

On average, a 6 litre washing machine uses around 1kWh for an hour’s wash. So if your rate is 16p per kWh, at 2 washes a week, it would cost you around £16 a year. According to the Energy Saving Trust, using an A++ rated washing machine could save you around £65 over its 11-year lifetime. To save the most energy, make sure you’re only washing with a full load, and use low temperatures whenever possible. 

For 120 more energy-saving ideas, check out our insightful blog. 

How much does it cost to run a tumble-dryer?

Tumble-dryers are the biggest energy-guzzlers in the kitchen, if not the whole home. To dry a full load of washing costs around 44p12 – so using your tumble dryer twice a week would cost you over £45 a year. 

Line drying, or using an indoor clothes horse would be a better option. If you really need to use a tumble dryer, choosing one with an A+++ energy label instead of an A-rated one could save you around £370 over its 13-year lifetime. 

Other ways to save energy around the home

Hopefully this article has given you some insights into where you’re spending money around your home. For more hints and tips on how to save energy and reduce your electricity bill, check out these guides:

Switch to OVO today, and see how much you could save. Read less

Get a quote

 

Sources and references:  

 1. As per Ofgem analysis of BEIS, Energy consumption statistics in the UK (1970-2018) and BEIS, historical gas data: gas production and consumption and fuel input (1920 to 2016). https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2019/11/20191030_state_of_energy_market_revised.pdf

2.  https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/energy-consumption-in-the-uk

3. https://www.ukpower.co.uk/home_energy/average-household-gas-and-electricity-usage

4. The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.

5. Interest Rewards are paid on credit balances of customers paying by monthly Direct Debit. It is calculated at 3% in your first year, 4% in your second year and 5% in your third year (and every year thereafter) if you pay by Direct Debit. Interest Rewards are paid monthly based on the number of days you’re in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. Full terms apply  

6.  https://selectra.co.uk/energy/guides/consumption/average-consumption-uk

7. Smart meters can be set to half hour, daily or monthly collection. The choice is yours.

8.  https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/tvs-are-electricity-guzzlers-you-need-see-bigger-picture/

9.  On 1 March 2021, new energy rating labels were introduced in the UK and EU. A simpler chart, from A to G, without the plus signs. We will update this article with new information soon.

10.  https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-6747693/How-money-save-year-switching-efficient-energy-appliances.html

11. https://smarterbusiness.co.uk/blogs/how-much-energy-do-my-appliances-use-infographic/