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How can I tell how much gas and electricity I’m using?

Cutting down on energy usage around the home not only helps to reduce your energy bills but also your carbon footprint. By monitoring how much energy you use, you can then take steps to be more energy efficient.

See how you can find out what you’re using and how you can save and reduce your bills.

Cutting down on energy usage around the home not only helps to reduce your energy bills but also your carbon footprint. By monitoring how much energy you use, you can then take steps to be more energy efficient.

See how you can find out what you’re using and how you can save and reduce your bills.

Sofia Hutson
Utilities expert
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 10 SEPTEMBER 2021

How do I know how much energy I am using?

First things first, you can only reduce your bills if you know what you’re already spending on energy. There’s a few ways to do this:

  • Monitor your daily usage by taking readings from your meter
  • Get a smart meter so you can monitor it from the display
  • Check your latest energy bill – it should have your monthly consumption/use and your annual estimated usage

Monitoring your daily usage will give you some clues about your power usage patterns and what’s energy hungry in your home. For example, doing a big weekly wash, taking a long bath or shower compared with a short one, or cooking Sunday lunch.

You can also experiment to see how small changes might make a difference, for example, washing at 30 degrees instead of 40 degrees, hanging clothes out on the line or over the radiator, instead of tumble drying.

How is energy calculated?

Energy is sold to you by the kilowatt hour (kWh), also known as a unit rate on your energy bill. You’re charged for every kWh hour you use. You’ll also be charged with a daily standing charge. This is what your energy provider charges you to be connected to their supply.

All electrical items are rated for power in watts or kilowatts. The amount they consume also depends on how long they’re on for.

The average UK household uses between 8.5-10 kWh per day.

Typical power rating ranges for the most common domestic appliances:

  • Dishwasher - 1.0-1.5 kWh
  • Tumble dryer - 2.0-3.0 kWh
  • Oven - 2.0-2.2 kWh
  • Kettle - 2.2-3.0 kWh
  • Fridge-freezer - 0.20-0.40 kWh

When buying new appliances, it's worth comparing their energy ratings to see which will cost less to run. The ratings range from A to G – with A being the most energy efficient. Some types of appliances may also have additional A+, A++ and A+++ ratings, to distinguish the most energy efficient. The label will also tell you how much electricity the product uses in kilowatt hours, so you can compare different models’ use of power.

How can I find out my energy usage from my bill?

You’ll find a full breakdown of your energy usage and how much you’re being charged for it on your energy bill. Whether this reflects your actual usage depends on the bill.

There are two types of bills:

  • Accurate - this is based on a recent meter reading, or on monthly readings that you’ve taken yourself, then sent to your supplier.
  • Estimated - if your supplier doesn’t receive your meter readings, the amount of kWh you’re charged for will be based on approximations, such as previous energy usage and what time of year it is.

Estimated bills might not be accurate, so you could be paying more one month, and less the next. The only way to get an accurate bill is to take an exact reading of your energy usage and send it to your supplier –  or get a smart meter installed. See our guide to smart meters. 

If you’re not sure where to find what you’ve been charged for on your bill, take a look at our guide to understanding your bill for:

  • British Gas
  • EDF
  • E.ON 
  • npower 
  • Scottish Power
  • SSE

Checking your annual statement will give you an overview of your total energy use and how much you’ve spent over the year. You may also be able to see the seasonal variations of your bills. Some providers may show you how much your annual use compared with the previous year, so you can see if your energy use is increasing or decreasing longer-term. Others may show you your expected use for the coming year based on your previous usage history.

All the information you need to compare tariffs is in the statement, so when you get your statement it’s a handy reminder to run an energy comparison and see if you can get a tariff that works better for you.

The best way to get an exact reading of your energy consumption at any time and eliminate the hassle of reading your meter altogether, is to opt for a smart meter.

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter will show you exactly how much energy you’re using in real time via an In Home Display (IHD). It will also send the information directly to your supplier using a mobile signal, which means you don’t have to do anything. You can also see which gadgets and appliances are costing you the most money to run.

Benefits of a smart meter include:

  • Accurate real time information on energy use
  • You’ll be able to manage your energy use more efficiently
  • No more estimated bills or meter readings
  • Switching suppliers is quicker and smoother as you won’t need to send a final reading to your current supplier

Just be aware that if you decide to switch suppliers in the future for a better tariff, the smart meter might not be compatible and you may need to get it swapped over to one installed by your new supplier.

The government smart meter roll-out, which started in 2012 and should last until 2020, means energy suppliers are required to install smart meters and IHDs at no upfront cost to the customer. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy reports that so far, over 10 million homes across Britain have been fitted with smart meters.

Smart meters aren’t compulsory, but they’re a great, hassle-free way of making you aware of your energy usage.

Compare and save

Knowing your energy usage can help you make an informed decision when it comes to comparing energy supplier tariffs. It can also help you get an accurate quote when you compare.

Compare energy suppliers to see if you can save.