What's really adding to your energy bills at home

Slash your bills

Hi, I’m Will and I’m part of the Marketing team at Octopus. I love numbers, and with energy prices high and winter coming up, I want to find ways to cut my bills down. I decided to measure how much energy different appliances and devices in my house use.

It's super easy to do via energy monitoring smart plugs. Here's how to run your own tests.

This is just the start of my experiments: I'll keep adding more findings to this blog to help you cut down. But as a starter for 10...

How much do different devices and appliances cost to run?

The big spenders

  1. Tumble dryer: £1.28 (or 6,000W) per cycle. That'd set me back £133 if I used it twice a week over a year. A few different factors can change how much a tumble dryer uses appliance uses but if used regularly, it's the home’s biggest offender.
  2. Light bulbs (the non-energy efficient kind): One bulb cost £0.11 (or 63.4W) for a typical daily use of six hours. Over a year, that's £40 PER BULB. You can buy energy efficient bulbs for around the same price, but they can use 10x less energy. The eco bulb I measured used 11W, or £0.02 per use, and would cost just £7 over the year – so I could be looking at a saving of £32 per bulb.
  3. Smart TVs: 10p (or 14.1W) per day on standby. Smart TVs can have a big standby cost, so it's 100% worth turning them off at the socket. Leaving my Smart TV on standby would cost £35 a year!
  4. Hair dryers: 9p for 10 minutes of use. Hair dryers use a lot of energy. They run at 2kW – which doesn’t sound too bad. But if you were to use it once a day that'd cost you nearly £35 a year.
  5. All your smart devices on standby: 16p (or 23.3W) per day on standby. Beyond my Smart TV, I found that smart devices that are connected to the internet all the time use up quite a lot of energy when on standby. I tested a smart speaker, a games console, a wi-fi router and TV set-top box, and collectively, they drained 23.3W when not in active use. This all adds up to £57.84 over a year.

What you don't need to worry so much about

As well as the devices that make the biggest impact, it also might be helpful to know what you can use without worrying as much (though of course you can still find small ways to cut down here). Again, it's worth checking your own appliances, especially the older ones as consumption can vary a lot.

  1. Microwaves: A single 5 minute use only costs 3p in electricity. That's just £11 a year if you were to use your microwave once every day. Microwaves use plenty of energy (1,200W) but they don’t take long to heat up food!
  2. Non smart devices on standby: Less than 1p per day (0.1-1W) per device. Combined they’d cost under £4 a year when left on standby. That's Microwave, Digital display on the oven and the TV without smart connectivity combined. The trick is finding out yourself which devices and appliances draw a lot of power on standby so it really can be worth getting a smart plug and trying this out yourself.
  3. Phone chargers left plugged into the wall: Less than 1p per day (<0.1W). Less than £1 per year. When tested chargers left plugged in drew less than 0.1W when not charging a phone or laptop. No need to worry if you forget to switch off chargers at the plug.
  4. Electric Blankets: 17p for a single 4.5 hours use (at 101W). That's £7.73 per year when used 60 days a year in the coldest months. To heat a standard 3 bedroom house with a gas boiler costs £841.70 for the same period.

Try it yourself

Devices and appliances can vary widely depending on the manufacturer, size and age, so doing your own research can help you identify the biggest energy culprits in your home. I really recommend getting smart plugs to run some tests. They come fairly cheap: the one I bought - The "TAPO P110" was just £10. You can plug them into any appliance and you'll be able to:

  • Turn your devices on and off remotely
  • Set devices to be turned on and off on a timer
  • Measure the energy consumed by devices.

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Any smart plug labelled “Energy monitoring” will work and they’re fairly easy to set up. Smart plugs that aren't labelled "Energy monitoring" can still turn your devices on and off remotely!

To set up most plugs all you'll need to do is:

  • Download an app onto your smart phone/tablet
  • Plug in your smart plug
  • Connect your smart phone/tablet to the plug using wifi
  • Then within the app connect the plug to your home wifi

All instructions specific to your smart plug should be in the app.

Good to know:

Some appliances (like your fridge or your iron) don’t consume energy all the time. Only when they’re heating up (iron) or cooling down (fridge), so you’ll need to monitor energy consumed on average over the duration of use.

When you’re done measuring you can use the plug to automatically turn off devices when they’re not going to be in use - often via an app, a smart speaker or even on a timer. These savings really add up for some power consuming smart devices on standby.

What about everything else?

I've covered the big spenders and the cheapest appliances to run but we didn't stop there. Below is the cost per use and cost per year for things you might use in the home, including any assumptions we've made.

Device Power/W Single use time Cost per use Use over the year Annual cost
Heating a standard 3 bedroom home11,0004.5 hours£14.034.5 hours a day for 60 days a year£841.70
Electric blanket1014.5 hours£0.134.5 hours a day for 60 days a year£7.73
Tumble dryer6,02045 minutes£1.28Two 45 minute cycles a week£133.07
Fridge Freezer16A day£0.11All year£39.72
Hair dryer1,998.510 minutes£0.09One 10 minute use per day£34.55
Games Console in use165.31 hour£0.05Average gamer plays per year£17.10
Desktop fan46.28 hours£0.10Overnight (8 hours) 4 months of the year£12.74
800W microwave in use1,285.65 minutes£0.035 minutes single use, every day£10.64
Vacuum cleaner721.125 minutes£0.0925 minutes per week£4.43
60W standard bulb63.46 hours£0.116 hours per day£39.35
11W energy efficient bulb11.16 hours£0.026 hours per day£6.89
Smart TV on standby14.1A day£0.10All year£35.00
WiFi Router7.7A day£0.05All year£19.12
TV set top box on standby5.2A day£0.04All year£12.91
Smart speaker1.7A day£0.01All year£4.22
WiFi extender1.4A day£0.01All year£3.48
Air freshener1.8A day£0.01All year£4.47
Digital display microwave on standby0.9A day£0.01All year£2.23
Games console on standby0.7A day£0.00All year£1.74
Gas oven on standby0.3A day£0.00All year£0.74
TV on standby0A day£0.00All year£0.00
Microwave no digital display on standby0A day£0.00All year£0.00

Published on 22nd September 2022 by:

image of Will McDermott

Will McDermott

Product and Marketing manager

Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!