How much more energy are you using in lockdown?

The coronavirus lockdown means more of us will be at home for most of the day, and that means higher energy bills - analysis from a number of energy firms, including Ovo, Bulb and EDF Energy, has revealed that household energy use is up by 30% during the middle of the day.

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But with fewer people getting up early for the commute or the school run, energy companies have also found that electricity usage is lower than usual at 7:30am.

And the overall demand for electricity is actually down by nearly 20% during normal office hours, according to figures from The National Grid, which it attributes to the drop in demand from large and industrial energy users, like car plants and factories.

If your household is using more gas and electricity during lockdown, here’s how to work out how much your usage has risen, along with some simple ways to cut costs and save money.

How to find out how much your energy usage has risen since working from home

If you’re on a fixed rate energy bill, the simplest way to work out how much more energy you’ve been using in lockdown is to compare your energy bills from February (before the lockdown) and April (the first month of lockdown), and look at the difference in usage.

But bear in mind this won’t give a completely accurate picture though, as it was a lot colder and darker in February, so you’d naturally have been using more gas and electricity than in April.

For a potentially more accurate picture, could also compare your bills from April this year and April last year, provided you’ve not moved into a new property or had any new arrivals in the household in the meantime.

If you’ve switch energy suppliers during that time, make sure you only compare the energy usage figures (measured in kWh on your bill), and the rates you pay will have changed during that time.

You could also use this method if you’re on a variable rate tariff.

Once you know how much more energy you’re using, it’s time to work how you can cut costs, and that’s where the UKPower running costs calculator can help.

How much electricity are your appliances using?

If you’re using more electricity during lockdown that you would normally be at this time of year, working out how much energy your main appliances are using could help you work out ways to cut costs.

The UKPower electricity calculator can help you work out how much electricity is needed to run a range of household appliances, and then use the rate you pay for each unit of electricity to show you how much it’s costing in pounds and pence.

It also allows you to either select an appliance from a dropdown list or enter your own values in the boxes provided.

Results are shown in kWh (kilowatt hours) which is what the unit rates are measured in on your energy bills and then works out how much it costs to run, and we’ll also show how much the same appliance would cost to run if you switched to the cheapest energy deal available.

You can then compare energy deals and switch to a cheaper one to save money.

To find out how much your appliances are using, go to our electricity costs calculator.

How to cut energy costs during lockdown

The warmer weather and lighter evenings will naturally help to cut the amount of energy we use, particularly on heating and lighting, but there are a number of other ways to cut costs around the home.

We all know the usual routine of turning off lights when not in use and dropping the thermostat a degree or turning the heating off completely - if not, check out our blog ‘7 simple ways to save energy when working from home’ and our energy saving advice guide.

Make a game of it

One of the simplest ways to cut your usage and make a small dent in your bills is to switch off appliances and chargers at the wall when not in use, which often seems easier said than done, especially with kids in the house.

As an incentive, you could offer points for any unused appliances they find switched on and they let you know about (be aware this part of the game is wide open for match fixing by the kids), and you could dock points for any appliances of theirs you find plugged in and left on. Once they reach a certain amount of points, they can get a reward.

You could add bonus points for any lights they find left on in empty rooms.

Encourage down time

It's easy to let the kids loose on devices all day, particulalry if you're working from home and much of the their school work has to be done online, but try to insist on some daily downtime for everyone.

Swicthing off laptops and consoles and taking a break from phone screens will not just help save energy, it'll give everyone time to properly switch off from the day's work and give everyone a much-needed break from the screens.

Try alternatives to watching telly or firing up the games console like getting out the board games, going for a walk or getting your daily exercise in, reading books or comics or gardening.

Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

If you’ve got an issue with your energy supplier, our consumer champion Les is on hand to help. A decade in consumer affairs means Les understands how confusing energy tariffs can be, so he'll cut through the jargon to help make sure you get the best deal.