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Summer energy bills - the cost of keeping cool

While heating bills drop in the summer, keeping cool at home can bump up your energy usage in ways you might not expect.
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Air conditioner unit in summer

Energy bills are typically cheaper during the summer as – at least in theory – the temperature rises and there’s no need to heat your home.

But there are still energy bills to pay – and in really warm weather, like the 40-degree heatwave the UK experienced in July 2022, the cost of keeping cool can add up.

How much does it cost to run a fan?

On hot and sticky nights, many people will leave a fan running all night to cool things down and make it easier to sleep. According to Uswitch research, a desktop electric fan costs approximately 1p an hour to run, so somewhere between 8 and 11p per night depending how many hours you get. Pedestal fans cost a bit more - just under 2p an hour - which would add up to about 14p per night.

If you do want to make your fan more efficient, you could try placing a bowl of ice or a frozen water bottle in front of it to circulate the cooler air. To stop your room from warming up too much to start with, try keeping your curtains closed and windows open during the day where possible.

How much does it cost to run air conditioning?

While you might not think that home air conditioning is all that common in the UK, a spell of hot weather at the end of May 2020 saw Google searches for portable air conditioning units rocket by 133% compared to the previous year.

According to Uswitch research, these units cost around 75p per hour to run. Using one for eight hours at night would cost £6, which can be extrapolated to £42 per week during hot weather.

How much does it cost to leave appliances on standby?

During the school half term and summer holidays, it’s likely your kids will use more household energy while they keep themselves entertained watching TV and playing consoles.

If you want to reduce electricity usage, make sure appliances are turned off properly rather than being left on standby.

How much do showers cost?

It can be tempting to take more showers to cool off or freshen up during hot weather. But not only does this use more water, it can add a fair amount to your energy bill depending on the type of shower and heating system you use.

A high-powered electric shower running for 10 minutes could add around 40p each time to your electricity bill, and the cost can quickly add up. If you could cut it to four minutes, you could save 24p.

How much does it cost to run outdoor patio heaters?

If you enjoy sitting out in your garden on a summer’s evening, you’ll know that the temperature can quickly drop. Patio heaters can be great for extending your time outside, but they can be costly to run.

Gas-powered patio heaters are notoriously energy-guzzling, using around £1.20 worth of canister gas per hour. But even the more energy-efficient plug-in versions can add 33p per hour to your electricity bill.

Why it’s important to consider your energy bills all year round

Depending on how you pay for your energy, your bills might be lower during the summer. Even if your costs are spread throughout the year, you’ll almost certainly use less energy during the warmer weather as you won’t need to pay to heat your house.

Uswitch’s five tips for keeping cool

  • Create a cooling breeze. Place a bowl of ice cubes in front of an electric fan to create a refreshing breeze as it blows the ice-cooled air around the room.

  • Close the curtains. Keep your curtains shut during the day. It may be tempting to let the light in, but the sunshine will heat the room, turning your home into a greenhouse. 

  • Unplug the tech. The gadgets plugged in your home produce heat, including those that are on standby. Unplug them when you're not using them to keep the room cool. 

  • Take advantage of the daylight. Switch the lights off during the day. Lightbulbs release heat causing a room to get warmer, so turning them off can help reduce the overall temperature. With the sun setting late in the evening during summer you can keep the lights off for longer and the room cooler. 

  • Use a hot water bottle. You don’t have to use a hot water bottle just to keep warm. Instead, you can fill it with cold water to keep you cool during the night. 

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