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Summer energy bills - the cost of keeping cool

Kasey Cassells
Written by Kasey Cassells, Senior content editor

26 October 2021

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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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, 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. According to Uswitch research, a 120W electric fan costs approximately 2p an hour to run, so shouldn't make too much of a dent in your energy usage.

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.

The 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 44p per hour to run. At the average usage of 4 hours 18 minutes during the day and 4 hours 48 minutes at night, portable air conditioning units could drive up electricity bills by £28 per week during hot weather.

School’s out - energy use is up

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 your kids’ electricity usage, make sure they turn off all appliances properly rather than leaving them on standby. The Energy Savings Trust estimates that leaving appliances on standby could add up to £80 to a household’s electricity bills per year.

Cost of filling a pool

A paddling pool is a great way to cool down, but filling it up could be costly if you’re on a water meter.

A 10ft pool holds around 5,000 litres of water, equivalent to around 140 showers or 65 baths. If you’re on a water meter, it could cost you around £16 to fill. If you don’t want to keep refilling your pool and wasting water, you could make it last all summer if by using sterilising tablets and a filter.

And if you've splashed out on a hot tub for the garden, bear in mind that it could cost 49p per hour just to heat the water.

The cost of taking more showers

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 32p to your electricity bill, and the cost can quickly add up.

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.