The 2018 heatwave: How did it effect your gas and electricity use?

Posted 25/10/2018 by E.ON

Brits are naturals at talking about the weather. So given that 16.5°C has been found to be the UK’s “Goldilocks” temperature (not too hot and not too cold!), it’s no wonder this summer’s heatwave got us talking.

In fact, this year’s warmer months were widely reported to have been as hot as the legendary summer of 1976 – but were they?

As British Summer Time comes to an end this weekend, we took a look at the numbers to find the answer – and to see what effect 2018’s heatwave had on our gas and electricity usage.

2018: The second hottest summer on record

Take note, pub quiz fans. Contrary to popular belief, Met Office weather data reveals that 2018 was in fact the second hottest summer, beaten by a mere 0.33°C. The warmest June, July and August on period on record is 1976 – with an average temperature of 20.96°C, narrowly beating this year’s 20.63°C. In comparison, the coolest summer on record was felt back in 1922, when the summer averaged a dreary 16.34°C.


And while this summer was undoubtedly a scorcher, it wasn’t enough to claim the overall ‘Hottest Year’ crown from 2014, which still stands as the warmest 12 months recorded in the last 100 years. That record stands at a positively blissful average of 13.54°C across the year. 

Global warming is a leading cause of the years getting progressively warmer. In fact, the top five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2003, when the annual temperature average was 13.48°C. Shockingly, future generations are unlikely to ever experience a cool mid-year, with only one summer in the last 20 years having an average temperature lower than 18.54°C.

Keeping cool: How much did your gas and electricity cost you?

So how did this scorcher of a summer affect our energy use? If you kept the heat at bay by sleeping with a fan on overnight, then you’re not alone. Four in five fan owners did this over the summer, and demand for electric fans went through the roof. Internet searches for “fans” rose by 140% in 2018, and sales doubled versus the same period last year. Using average energy use figures over a 12-hour period, we worked out the total energy used by fans over the summer would have been 723,672,000 kWh – enough to power 233,443 average-sized homes for a year.* 


Do you know how much using your air conditioning adds onto your electricity bill? A third of people in the UK admit that they have no idea, but that didn’t stop a massive 40% upgrading their fans and systems to keep cool in the scorching heat. Based on 2017’s demand for air conditioning units in the UK, we estimated that the UK’s energy use this summer on air conditioning alone was 224,646,050 kWh – equivalent to powering 72,466 average-sized homes for a year.*


But perhaps one of the most surprising results was the difference in price between using a fan or air conditioning. Looking at the three hottest months of this year, we found that using an air conditioning unit for 12 hours a day could cost electricity bill payers £10.85 a week on average – total cost of £142.60.

Running a fan for the same period of time would only add a maximum of 98p a week to your electricity bill, or a cool £12.88. No wonder people were turning to household fans to beat the heat and save money. 


Summer savings: Beating the heat on a budget

Interestingly, while the cost of keeping cool may have gone up, the hot weather saw a fall in energy usage in other areas. This summer’s long, sunny evenings led to more people spending time outdoors, and a rise in al fresco dining saw sales of BBQs increasing by two thirds (67%). Those that barbecued more than usual this summer used 430,920,000kWh less energy in the home than they would have if they’d used hobs and ovens - saving enough to power 130,006 average-sized homes for a year.*


But saving energy needn’t be the only benefit of a scorching summer. You could generate your own energy by harnessing the power of the sun with innovative solar and battery storage for your home. After all, solar power was the number one source of energy for the first time ever this year with its share reaching 27%. So while the long days of summer may be starting to feel like a distant memory, this year’s scorcher has given us some top tips for saving energy and money when the hotter weather returns next year.


*Numbers have been calculated based on the average household’s annual electricity usage.

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