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How to save electricity at home

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Saving electricity cuts your energy bills and your carbon footprint. Follow our quick and easy tips to lower your bills, help the planet and enjoy the many benefits of using less electricity at home.

Page contents 

  • How much electricity does the average household use?
  • Understanding your electricity bill 
  • Easy ways to save electricity at home 
    • Lighting & electronics 
    • Washing & bathing
    • Cooking & cleaning
    • Refrigeration & food storage 
  • Long term investments to save electricity at home
    • Energy efficient appliances 
    • Renewable energy
    • Monitor electricity usage 
    • Time base rates
  • Power NI electricity prices & plans

How much electricity does the average household use?

Every household in Northern Ireland uses an average of 3,200 kWh of electricity each year. That adds up to a typical household electricity bill of £847 a year. We use most electricity at home between 6pm and 9pm, with 8pm being the peak time for energy use. Our homes now have 13 electrical appliances on average, compared to just four appliances in 1990.

Although the price of electricity and the number of appliances we own has risen considerably over the decades, electricity use has not. Better insulation and more energy-efficient appliances mean consumption has actually been steadily dropping since 2005. But there are still lots of things you can do to save electricity at home — and save money on your energy bills in the process.

Understanding your electricity bill 

To start saving electricity, it’s useful to build up a picture of how you’re currently using it. Your electricity bill is a good place to start. 

The front of your bill will usually show your account details and the amount you need to pay. The reverse of the bill gives more clues about how much electricity you're using. You'll be able to see: 

  • The amount of electricity used in kWh
  • The rate or rates you’ve paid for what you’ve used
  • How your usage compares to the same quarter last year 

This will help you to see if you’re on the best tariff and to track the impact of any changes you’re making. Pay by bill and Keypad+ customers can also monitor usage over time using the Power NI app.

Easy ways to save electricity at home  

Saving electricity at home is easier than you might think. There are lots of little changes that you can make that will add up to a big saving on your bills. You can also make bigger investments that will ultimately deliver even greater savings on your electricity use. Let’s explore those ways of saving electricity in more detail.

Lighting & electronics 

  • Turn off Lights

Remembering to switch off lights when you leave a room — even if you’ll be back soon — will help to cut your costs. Turning off lights you’re not using could save between £12 and £25 every year.

  • Switch to LED

Replacing regular light bulbs with LED bulbs will lower the amount of electricity used significantly. Using LED lighting throughout your home will reduce your carbon footprint by 50 kg every year  — and your electricity bill by around £65 a year.

  • Utilise sun for Light

Cut your reliance on electricity by letting the sun do the job for you. Open all blinds and curtains during daylight hours to let light and warmth into your home. Just remember to close them again at dusk to keep the heat in.

  • Use TV power saving setting 

Making simple changes to your TV's settings will help you to save electricity. Most TVs have a power saving or eco setting that will cut energy usage by lowering the brightness of the screen.

  • Don’t charge phone overnight

Mobile phones need as little as three hours to fully charge. Leaving your phone plugged in and charging overnight is a waste of energy. Try charging during the day as needed instead. 

  • Turn off standby

Turning appliances off at the wall instead of leaving them in standby mode will help you to use less electricity. Try switching off your TV, TV box, microwave, electric shower and games consoles to save between £65 and £147 every year.

  • Service appliances regularly

Even energy-efficient appliances need help to stay efficient. Cleaning the filter, seals and spray arm on your dishwasher, and removing lint from your washing machine will keep them working efficiently.

Washing & bathing 

  • Use cooler washes

Washing your clothes at a lower temperature will use less electricity. Swapping from 40°C to 30°C cycles will save an average of £40 per year. It also means you’ll be able to do three washes for the same amount of energy you would otherwise have used on two washes. 

  • Air dry laundry

Hanging your clothes out to dry cuts tumble dryer use, and that significantly cuts electricity use. Using a clothes line or airer to hang your laundry can save up to £70 a year. Even drying indoors with a window open or using a dehumidifier will use less electricity. 

  • Use tumble dryer balls

When using the tumble dryer is unavoidable, use tumble dryer balls to cut drying times — and electricity use — by up to 25%. The spiky balls go inside the dryer with your clothes and help them to circulate better for faster drying.

  • Take shorter showers

The average shower lasts for eight minutes. Cutting a minute off the time you spend in the shower could save you £35 a year. If you need longer, you could turn off the shower when lathering to make savings.

  • Swap baths for showers

Swapping one bath a week for a four-minute shower will save around £20 a year on your energy bills. Showers are far more energy efficient than baths. If you use your immersion heater to heat water for your bath, showering instead will save a lot of electricity.

Cooking & cleaning 

  • Use microwaves or air fryers

Both microwaves and air fryers use far less energy than electric ovens. Make the switch where possible to cut cooking times and electricity costs. For example, cooking a jacket potato costs around 7p in a microwave, 27p in an air fryer and 37p in an electric oven.

  • Use hobs efficiently

How you operate the hob can have a big impact on how much electricity is used. Using smaller pans, choosing the most suitable ring on the hob, and using lids on saucepans will all reduce the amount of electricity you use when cooking.

  • Batch cook meals 

Batch-cooking meals will help to cut your oven use. Making enough to serve double or triple portions, or cooking more than one meal at the same time, means you’ll get more meals out of the same amount of energy use.

  • Don't overfill the kettle

Kettles use a lot of electricity. Filling the kettle with more water than you need wastes energy and costs money. Only filling the kettle with as much water as you need is a simple way of saving around £13 a year. 

  • Fill your dishwasher

Only use your dishwasher once it’s completely full of dirty dishes to cut down on the number of cycles you need. If you wait until your dishwasher is full instead of washing partial loads, you could save up to £17 a year. 

  • Use a washing up basin 

Depending on how you heat your water, you might be able to save even more energy by washing your dishes by hand instead of in the dishwasher. Use a washing up basin rather than washing under a running tap to minimise the amount of water you need to heat.

Refrigeration & food storage 

  • Clean fridge coils

Cleaning the condenser coils on the back of your fridge will help to keep it working efficiently. You’ll just need to gently dust the coils, which are usually found underneath a panel that you’ll need to remove with a screwdriver.

  • Defrost freezer regularly 

If your freezer is full of ice, it operates less efficiently and uses more electricity. Defrosting it regularly will keep it working in peak condition by making sure the motor doesn’t have to work too hard to maintain the right temperature.

  • Keep fridge freezers full

Keeping your fridge or fridge freezer about three-quarters full will help it to retain its temperature. The temperature doesn't drop as quickly in a full freezer when you open the door, which means it doesn’t have to use as much electricity to restore the correct temperature.

  • Check the temperature of fridge freezers 

The ideal temperature for fridges is 5°C and for freezers is -18°C. If you're running your appliances colder than this then you're wasting energy and spending money maintaining temperatures that are cooler than you need.

  • Defrost frozen food in the fridge

Plan ahead and defrost frozen food in the fridge overnight the night before you need it. Letting your fridge do the hard work saves you electricity that you’d otherwise use defrosting food in the microwave.

Long-term investments to save electricity at home

As well as making changes to how you use electricity at home, you can also make long-term investments in technology or infrastructure that will help you to make even greater savings over time. While these investments will cost you money, they will pay for themselves by cutting your energy bills going forward. Let’s take a look at some of the investments that you could make.

Buy energy efficient appliances
One way to quickly cut down on electricity use is to buy more efficient appliances. You’ll see labels on appliances showing their energy rating, A being the most efficient and G being the least efficient. An A-rated fridge freezer will save you around £800 in electricity costs compared to an F-rated appliance over its 17-year lifespan.

Power NI customers can use Power NI Perks to make investing in energy-efficient appliances more affordable. You’ll find special discounts from appliance retailers including Argos, B&Q and Currys.

Invest in solar power
You could save on the amount of electricity you pay for — if not the amount you actually use — by generating your own. Solar power  has the added bonus that the electricity you’re using is 100% renewable. 

Solar panel installation costs start at around £1,500 and go up to more than £20,000, but could help you to save hundreds of pounds every year on your energy bills.

Monitor electricity usage with Power NI Keypad+ 
This one’s a long-term investment on our part. Keypad+ is a free upgrade available to Power NI pay as you go customers. As well as offering 24/7 online top-ups with a 2.5% discount, the free smartphone app helps you to monitor real-time and historic electricity use.

With that valuable information available instantly on your phone, you can make short-term and long-term decisions that help you to use less electricity.

Choose Time Based Electricity Tariff
An electricity tariff is something we all need, so it does become a long-term investment over time. You might be able to save electricity costs by overlooking the lowest rates in favour of something that will actually save more money in the long run.

Some good examples of this are Power NI's Economy 7 tariffs. You'll benefit from approximately half-price discounts on your night rate in exchange for a higher day rate. If you’re able to limit your electricity use during the day and use most of your appliances overnight, this can add up to a big saving.

Power NI Electricity Prices & Plans 

Ready to find the right plan to help you save electricity at home? We’re committed to helping people across Northern Ireland to get more from their electricity plans. See what will work best for your home.