With energy prices soaring, we are all having to be much more conscious of our energy use. Taking control of the way we heat our homes, the way we cook and the appliances we use can quickly and easily cut energy use and associated carbon emissions, protecting our pockets and the planet in the process.
Staying warm while keeping green
One-degree thermostat challenge
With the UK recently experiencing a cold snap, you might be tempted to turn the thermostat up in your home. The Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis has advised people against this and has even set a challenge for households to turn their heating down by one degree.
Lowering the temperature on the thermostat by just 1°C can save as much as 1,530kWh of energy, according to Georgina Wilson-Powell’s Is it really green? Everyday eco-dilemmas answered (2021). That represents a saving of at least £150, based on the UK Government’s energy price cap, but could be as much as £400, according to some estimates. Wilson-Powell suggests it would also result in lowering the average household’s emissions by 350kg of CO2 – roughly equivalent to driving a petrol car from London to Porto, Portugal.
Heat on a room-by-room basis
Further savings – potentially up to 5% of the energy used for heating – could be achieved by only heating the parts of the house that you are using at any point in time. Thermostatic valves on radiators, or smart heating systems like Hive or Nest, allow you to turn off the heating in certain parts of the house.
The potential for energy saving does not stop with heating your home. What and how you cook is also important, though the trade-off between cost and environmental benefit is more complicated.
The best oven
The greenest ovens are fan assisted, using around 20% of the energy of a traditional oven, because they heat up more quickly, according to Wilson-Powell. However, research by Delicious Magazine suggests that running an electric oven for 1 hour is more than twice the price of a gas oven – £1.03 v. £0.46.
Wilson-Powell suggests that induction hobs use far less energy to cook the same amount of food as an electric or gas hob – 0.5kWh, 0.7kWh and 0.9kWh respectively. But, using a gas hob for 20 minutes works out at about £0.07, compared with £0.25 for an electric one.
The meal and method
A quicker short-term fix is to rethink what and how you are cooking. Meals cooked using the minimum number of pans saves energy – and washing up! Meanwhile, preparing a stew in a slow cooker could cost as little as £0.32, despite it being on for 6 hours. Research by energy company Hometree indicates that a slow cooker uses 0.16kWh per hour – less than a tenth of the energy of a typical electric hob. That saves 1.3kg CO2e, or emissions to driving 3 miles.
Optimising appliance use
Many other small changes, particularly in appliance use, can help to save energy, including:
The table below gives you a rough indication of the energy use of different appliances.
|Appliance||kWh (1)||Approx. emissions per kWh
|Cost per hour (2)|
|Tumble dryer (3,000 watts)||3.00||2.127||£1.02|
|Electric hob (1,700W)||1.70||1.205||58p|
|Vacuum cleaner (1,400W)||1.40||0.993||48p|
|Air fryer (1,000W)||1.00||0.709||34p|
|Electric clothes airer (250W)||0.25||0.177||8.5p|
|Slow cooker (225W)||0.23||0.163||8p|
|PlayStation 5 (201W)||0.20||0.142||7p|
|Electric blanket (100W)||0.10||0.071||3.4p|
|Sky Q box (45W)||0.05||0.035||1.5p|
|BT Hub (12W)||0.01||0.007||0.41p|
|Light bulb (10W)||0.01||0.007||0.34p|
|Sky Q box (standby) (9W)||0.01||0.007||0.31p|
|Microwave (standby) (7W)||0.007||0.005||0.24p|
|Phone charger (5W)||0.005||0.004||0.17p|
(1) kWh (kilowatt hours) are the units used to measure how much power is used by an appliance. It works out as the watt power of an appliance divided by 1,000 (when used for one hour). (2) Prices based on 1 October 2022 price guarantee rate of 34p/kWh.
Source: Money Saving Expert/ US Environmental Protection Agency