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in the Bristol and Somerset area:
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How much electricity am I using?

If you want to save electricity (and why wouldn’t you?) it helps to focus on the things that use most, and so cost you the most money. In other words: 'what uses watt'?


Some electrical items use a lot of electricity. Others don’t. As a rule, those with moving parts or which produce heat use much more than those producing light or sound.

So if you want to save electricity and money, there’s no point worrying about a digital clock or an electric razor since these use so little power you would hardly notice the difference. The big savings lie elsewhere.

Every electrical appliance has a power rating which tells you how much electricity it needs to work. This is usually given in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). Of course, the amount of electricity it uses depends on how long it’s on for, and this is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). 

An item like a fridge has a low wattage, but because it’s on all the time it’ll use a lot of electricity. And although an iron is only used now and again, it uses a lot of electricty so the quicker you do your ironing the better.

See table below for ratings for different appliances.

Electricity is sold by the kilowatt-hour (kWh) – usually referred to as ‘units’ on your electricity bill. If you’re feeling mathmatical you can work out how much a particular appliance costs to run by multiplying its wattage by the amount of time it’s on and then by the cost of electricity per kWh.

For example, let’s say you have a 500W dehumidifier (i.e. 0.5kW) and you run it round the clock for a whole day. The electricity used is 0.5 (kW) x 24 (hours) = 12kWh. If your electricity costs 15p per kWh (and price will vary depending on the tariff you are on) then this will cost 12 x 15 = 180p. It’s costing nearly £2 a day to have the dehumidifier running constantly, so you can see how appliances can add a lot to your bills.

Many modern appliances have design innovations to make them more energy efficient. An electric oven might be better insulated to reduce heat loss, thereby reducing the energy it needs to maintain your cooking temperature. A modern washing machine is likely to be designed to get your clothes clean at lower temperatures and use less water.

Those goods rated ‘A’ or above on energy labels (see label) are the most efficient and will save you money compared to a lower rated equivalent.

This table lists common appliances and a typical power rating or a range (the actual power rating can vary a lot depending on size and model).

Appliance Rating   Appliance Rating
 Immersion heater  3000W    Fridge  40-120W
 Electric fire  2000-3000W    Fridge-freezer  200-400W
 Oil-filled radiator  1500-2500W    Freeze  150W
 Electric shower  7000-10,500W    Electric mower  500-1500W
 Dishwasher  1050-1500W    Electric drill  900-1000W
 Washing machine  1200-3000W    Hairdryer  1000W
 Tumble dryer  2000-4000W    Heating blanket  130-200W
 Iron  1000-1800W    Plasma TV  280-450
 Vacuum cleaner  500-1200W    LCD TV  125-200W
 Towel rail  250W    Video, DVD or CD  20-60W
 Deep fryer  1200W    TV box  30-40W
 Toaster  800-1500W    Games console  45-190W
 Kettle  2200-3000W    Laptop  20-50W
 Microwave  600-1500W    Desktop computer  80-150W
 Oven  2000-2200W    Tablet (charge)  10W
 Grill/hob  1000-2000W    Broadband router  7-10W
 Dehumidifier  300-700W    Smart phone (charge)  2.5-5W
 Extractor fan  1-36W      

Energy monitors

Many homes now have energy monitors that show how much electricity is being used at the present time, as well as how much was used last week, last month etc. They are wireless devices that can tell you useful things like what your current energy use is costing you. Basic models can be bought for around £30 although you may find that your local library can lend you one to try out.

Lighting

Although a single light doesn’t use much electricity (60-100W for a typical old-fashioned bulb), our homes can have dozens of them, so it adds up to quite a lot – around a fifth of an average home’s electricity bill. As we move to low-energy light bulbs the amount we spend on lighting will go down, but it is still worth checking that you’re not leaving lights on unnecessarily.

Read more about domestic lighting here.

photo: www.iStock.com / Ruta Saulyte-Laurinaviciene

Frequently asked questions

How do I work out the running cost of an electrical appliance?

A kilowatt (kW) is 1000 Watts. If you know the rating of the appliance in kilowatts then you can simply multiply this by the length of time the appliance is being used (in hours) to give you its kilowatt hour (kWh) consumption. A kWh is the same as one unit of electricity on your bill. The price per unit will be on your bill. You could also plug your appliance into an individual appliance monitor. This will show the electricity consumption when the appliance is switched on. You can also get energy monitors that tell you how much electricity is being used in your whole house at any given time.


Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234


Next question

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Which is more efficient for cooking - gas or electric hobs?

Electricity is around four times more expensive per unit than gas but you'll use fewer units cooking with electricity. A typical household might spend around £40 per year more by cooking with electricity as compared with gas. Also gas cooking appliances are traditionally more controlable than electric. However modern electric hobs heat up extremely quickly, reducing efficiency losses. With electric hobs make sure you match the pan size to the hob. Using a 6" diameter pan on an 8" diameter hob will waste up to 40% of the heat produced. Keeping lids on saucepans will allow you to turn the hob down and thereby save energy.


Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234


Next question

View all frequently asked questions

Where can I get an energy monitor?

Energy monitors are available from high street and shopping centre home-ware stores and can also be ordered online. Your energy supplier may also be able to provide you with an energy monitor. Some people can even qualify for a free energy monitor.


Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234


Next question

View all frequently asked questions

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Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us

Or freephone: 0800 082 2234

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Download the PDF

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This information is available as a freely downloadable PDF from this page.

For more domestic energy advice, view all our advice pages.

Energy monitors

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Energy monitors measure and display electricity usage in real time.

Read this leaflet to find out how they can help to cut your bills.