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Will Powered: Nine in ten households admit to bad energy habits that can add £205 a year to bills

  • Nearly every UK household (93%) admits to having at least one bad energy habit – including overfilling the kettle and leaving lights on – which can add up to £205 a year to bills[1]

  • Two thirds of people (66%) set their washing machine at temperatures above 40oC – costing an extra £20 a year, and half (48%) run it when it’s not full – costing nearly £8 more a year[2]

  • Three in five Brits (61%) fill their kettle with more water than they need, potentially costing almost £40 extra a year[3]

  • Two thirds of households (68%) leave mobile phones plugged in when fully charged, and half (53%) leave the TV on when no one is watching[4] 

  • is offering tips on how to reduce energy use in 2024 and encourages smart meter users to track energy with the free Uswitch app.

Households are being urged to make a New Year Resolution to save energy – with a whopping nine in ten (93%) admitting to having at least one of the bad energy habits that can add up to £205 a year to bills[1], reveals research from, the comparison and switching service. 

There are big potential savings on the costs of running kitchen appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers, which are among the most energy-consuming devices in UK households.  

Two thirds of households (66%) set their washing machine at more than 40oC, potentially costing nearly £20 a year more than washing at 30oC, while almost half (48%) run it when it’s not full. With washing machines costing households £32 a year on average in electricity, an extra wash every week could add an extra £8 to yearly bills[2].

Energy habitProportion that do thisCost per household basedon average usage
Boil more water in the kettle than needed61% £39.62
Bring things to the boil on the hob without a lid on the saucepan 65% £32.84
Use the tumble dryer when it’s a hot day outside 41% £30.84
Run the washing machine at 40°C or more 66% £30.84
Run the tumble dryer when it’s not full 47% £18.51
Boil more water in a saucepan than needed 51% £16.42
Let the hot/warm tap keep running while washing up48% £11.87
Run the dishwasher when it’s not full40% £9.83
Leave lights on when not in the room52% £9.25
Run the washing machine when it’s not full 48% £8.05
Put off defrosting the freezer67% £3.55
Leave TV on when nobody is watching 53% £1.90
Leave phone charging when it is reached maximum battery 68% £1.78
Leave gadgets on standby 72%£1.65

Running the dishwasher when it’s not full adds an average of almost £10 a year to energy bills – while not using the appliance’s eco mode could also increase costs by £20[5].

Another costly habit is leaving the hot tap running while doing the washing up. A running hot tap can waste 100 litres in just ten minutes, wasting 26p in energy costs. Households that do this one a week could run up an additional £12 a year[7].

Tea-making is an area where bad habits can quickly increase energy costs. Three fifths of households (61%) say they fill the kettle with more water than they need, potentially adding nearly £40 to the average £84-a-year cost of tea-making if they overfill by half every time[3].

The UK city with the most over-filled kettles is Liverpool, with seven in ten households (71%) admitting to boiling more water than they need, compared to 45% in Cardiff, the place least likely to over-fill.

Nearly 15 million households admit leaving the TV on when no one is watching, potentially adding £1.90 a year to bills, while half (52%) leave the lights on when no one is in the room, which could add £9 to annual bills. Leaving devices on standby is the most common bad habit, with 72% of households saying they do this. 

Uswitch is offering consumers its free power-tracking app Utrack to help households keep an eye on their energy use. Utrack is designed to be linked to a home smart meter to help consumers understand their home energy consumption, monitor when they are using the most power and find ways to cut costs around the home.

Ben Gallizzi, energy expert at, comments: “Most New Year Resolutions don’t last a long time, but getting into good energy habits could save you a significant amount of money over the year.

“We’ve all been guilty at times of leaving the lights on or overfilling the kettle, but it’s important to remember that these habits can all add hundreds of pounds a year to our bills.

“Bills are higher this winter than they were last year, but there are a lot of ways households can cut their energy use.

“Saving money might be as simple as using the eco mode on your white goods and making sure you only run them when full.

“Households looking for an easy way to see how much energy they are using over the winter period can download Utrack, a free mobile app that lets consumers connect to their smart meter and track their energy use.”

Track your energy usage with Utrack by Uswitch here.


Rianna York
Phone: 07817 083 280
Twitter: @UswitchPR

Research conducted online by Opinium, 6th to 9th June 2023, among 2,000 UK adults, weighted to be nationally representative.
1. Respondents were asked ‘Do you regularly do any of the following?’’ See table for percentage of households which answered ‘yes’ to each bad habit. 
2. Washing machines. On average households spend £32 a year running their washing machine, based on a 0.712kWh cycle, used three times a week at the energy price guarantee electricity unit rate of 29p (0.712kWh x 3 x 52 x 0.29£/kWh = £32.21). Which? Research finds washing at 30C uses 38% less energy than washing at 40C. £32.21 / 0.62 = £51.95. Extra cost of using 40C = £51.95 - £32.21 = £19.74. Households that fill their washing machine 80% full will end up doing an extra wash every four washes. £32.21 x 5/4 = £40.26. £40.26 - £32.21 = £8.05. Currys research says that using the eco mode on a washing machine saves between 35% and 59% of energy. Taking an average of these two figures gives 47%. £32.21 / 0.53 = £60.77. £60.77 - £32.21 = £28.56.    
3. Kettles. On average, households spend £79.25 a year using their kettle, based on a 3kW device, used for 1.8 hours a week. Assuming that households fill the kettle with 50% more water than they need, 50% of £79.25 = £39.62. 
4. Dishwashers. On average, households spend £39.31 a year using their dishwasher, based on an average 0.79kWh per cycle, used three times a week. Households that fill their dishwasher 80% full will end up doing an extra wash every four washes. £39.31 x 5/4 = £49.13. £49.13 - £39.31 = £9.83. Research suggests using the eco mode on a dishwasher saves 33% of energy. £39.31 / 0.66 = £59.56 cost of not using eco mode. £59.56 - £39.31 = £20.25.
5. Tumble dryers. On average, households spend £74.02 a year running their tumble dryer, based on a 2.5kW model used for two hours a week. Households that fill their tumble dryer 80% full will end up doing an extra load every four cycles. £74.02 x 5/4 = £92.52. £92.52 - £74.02 = £18.51. Using the tumble dryer when it’s hot outside wastes energy during the five warmest months of the year. £74.02 x 5/12 = £30.84 potential saving. Assume eco mode saves 33% of energy, £74.02 / 0.66 = £112.15. £112.15 - £74.02 = £38.13.
6. Hot tap. Research by Tap Warehouse finds ten minutes of rinsing dishes can waste up to 100 litres of water. The energy required to heat 100 litres of water is 3.26kWh, which equates to £0.23 per washing session if using a gas boiler. Assume that this happens once a week, equals £0.23 x 52 = £11.87 a year.

About Uswitch 

Uswitch is one of the UK’s top comparison websites for home services switching, including energy, broadband and mobiles. 

More people go to Uswitch to switch their energy, broadband and mobile than any other site, and we have saved consumers over £2.7 billion off their bills since we launched in September 2000.

Free mobile app Utrack also helps households manage their home energy usage and make potential savings. 

Uswitch is part of RVU, a group of online brands with a mission to empower consumers to make more confident home services, insurance and financial decisions.