guide

Top 13 ways to save electricity at home and reduce your bills

05 November 2021 | Stephen Marcus

There are lots of ways to save energy at home – both small changes and big changes can help. Saving energy lightens your carbon footprint too. Here, we’ll share some ideas to help you get started.

From kitchen tips to doing the laundry, find out how to save money and cut your carbon footprint at the same time.

First things first: how much electricity does the average household use?

The average home uses 2,900 kWh of electricity a year1. Since 2005, the amount of electricity used by the average household has been going steadily down2. This is because both homes and appliances are becoming more energy efficient and better-insulated. That means it doesn’t take as much energy to power things like kettles and washing machines.

13 ways to save electricity at home

1. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs

Switching to energy-efficient bulbs is one way to save electricity. The traditional types – known as incandescent bulbs – only convert 10% of the energy used to power them into light. The rest is lost as heat3.

When your old bulbs wear out, if you’re able to replace them with LEDs then each year you could cut your carbon emissions by up to 40kg4 – and your bills by £305. LEDs have a lifespan of around 34 years, compared to just over one year for incandescent bulbs.

To find out more, check out our ultimate guide to energy-saving light bulbs, and find out how to choose the right ones for your home.

2. Switching off at the wall

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average UK household spends £40 a year on appliances left on standby6. This is because, when you leave devices like TVs or stereos on standby, they still use power. Turning them off at the wall stops this happening. 

3. Being more energy-efficient with fridges and freezers

  • Cleaning the coils of fridges – the coils at the back of your fridge get dirty over time. Wiping them clean can make a difference in boosting the energy-efficiency of your fridge.
  • Checking the temperature – the ideal temperature for your fridge is between 3˚and 5˚C, while for your freezer it’s minus 18˚C. Making sure they’re at the right temperature will make sure they use no more energy than they need to. 
  • Don’t put hot food in – where it’s safe to, it’s best to let hot food cool before putting it in the fridge – otherwise it takes extra energy for the fridge to cool it down. It’s important to keep food covered and not to leave it out for long. 

To learn more, check out our guide to energy-efficient fridges and freezers.

How to save electricity at home

4. Being more efficient when cooking

If it takes less time to cook something then it also uses less energy too. Heating water in a kettle rather than on the hob helps speed up the process. And keeping the oven door closed as much as possible will mean less heat escapes, so that food cooks faster. 

5. Washing clothes on a lower temperature

According to the Energy Saving Trust, washing clothes at 30C will save 40% of the energy that gets used when washing at higher temperatures. And a study by Which? found that if the whole of the UK washed at 30C, it would cut 858,000 tonnes of carbon being emitted each year.

Nowadays, modern detergents are able to get good results at lower temperatures. 

6. Making the most of lighting

Cleaning lampshades and bulbs is a useful way to make sure they give off maximum light and aren’t dimmed by dirt and dust.

Want more control over your electricity? A smart meter can help you track your energy use, and make your home more energy-efficient. Book a free installation in 2 minutes.

7. Don’t overfill the kettle

From making a cup of tea to boiling water for a pan, only filling the kettle with the amount of water needed stops any energy being wasted. According to the Energy Saving Trust, this can save £8 a year7.

8. Buying energy-efficient appliances

Whenever you’re replacing appliances at home, buying an energy-efficient model will use less energy and save money on power. For more advice, see some of our guides:

9. Taking shorter showers

If your shower is electric or you have an electric boiler, they can use a fair bit of power – even just a minute less in the shower will cut the electricity used. 

10. Microwaves are good for saving energy  

A microwave can tackle some tasks just as well as the oven or the hob – and your microwave uses far less energy to do it. For instance, if you’re reheating soup, there’s no need to use the stove. It’s much more efficient to use the microwave – and it gets the job done quicker too.  

11. Getting appliances serviced regularly

By getting your appliances serviced to make sure they’re working well, you’ll also know that they’ll be working efficiently – and not using any more power than needed to do their job. Here are other guides on this:

12. Investing in smart home technology

If you’re able to, smart home tech can help save energy. By getting a smart thermostat, for example, you can make sure you never heat an empty home –  and you can sync your heating up to the weather.

How about getting a smart meter? It’s free to have one installed and they let you track your energy use, helping you to spot ways to save. 

Smart home tech can range from smaller gadgets to large-scale innovations, like heat pumps or thermal energy storage. It’s all designed to make homes more efficient – or even to generate energy, through technology like solar panels.

To learn more about smart home tech, take a look here:

13. Using the dishwasher instead

If you have a dishwasher, it’s possible that using it might be more energy-efficient than washing by hand. A study by Which? found that all the dishwashers they tested used less water than washing your dishes in the sink. 

Time-based electricity rates 

Time-based tariffs are another handy way to cut down your electricity bills. They have off-peak periods, where it’s cheaper to use electricity, so you can time when you use appliances, to save money. They can be appealing to electric car and plug-in hybrid owners, who can charge their car more cheaply overnight. Find out more about they work in our guides:

Plus, it’s also now possible to time your energy use to when the grid is greenest. With our new Carbon Intensity tool OVO Greenlight, OVO members can forecast when their energy will use the least carbon.

Get a quote and switch your energy supplier in 2 minutes

Looking to make a change? Become an OVO member today and you could enjoy:

  • Competitively priced 100% renewable electricity as standard8
  • A tree planted for every year you’re with us
  • 3-5% interest for every year your account is in credit

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Sources and references

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

2 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

3 https://www.mrsec.psu.edu/content/light-bulb-efficiency#:~:text=Only%2010%25%20of%20the%20energy,90%25%20is%20lost%20as%20heat

4 https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/lighting/

5 https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/getting-best-out-your-led-lighting/

6 https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/hub/quick-tips-to-save-energy/

7 https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/dryer-costs-tumble-technologies-improve/

8 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.