Four factors that changed household energy use during lockdown

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Four factors that changed household energy use during lockdown

Now that we’re back in another national lockdown, we’ve taken a look back at how our household energy use changed during the first UK-wide lockdown – and how you could save energy while spending more time at home.

With schools closed during lockdown and people largely spending more time at home, household appliances and devices were used more— with UK home electricity consumption reaching new levelsa.

Here are four of the biggest factors that affected the electricity changes during the first national lockdown:

1. Cooking at home

Without the option to dine at a restaurant or eat lunch at work, many UK residents began cooking at home more frequently than before lockdown.

The average household spent roughly seven hours a week cooking their meals during lockdown, compared to six hours beforeb, and the number of meals eaten at home increased by an estimated 38%c.

Turning on kitchen lights, using the oven and hobs, opening and closing the fridge, and using the kettle are just a few common kitchen activities that helped to hike daily gas and electricity levels.

2. Working from home

One of the biggest changes in domestic energy usage came as a result of more people working from home. The dependency on video meetings, email and other internet-based communication meant that people spent more time on their computers, laptops, and smartphones throughout the day.

Constantly using and charging your laptop and computer monitor can eat up energy quickly, boosting the electricity cost from £26.38 a year for computer use to £47.49, which is an 80% increasea.

3. Live programming

With millions of us spending more time at home during the peak lockdown period, more people turned to TV for their entertainment and information.

Interestingly, though, we didn't just binge-watch our favourite Netflix TV shows — we also tuned in to watch live programmes. Boris Johnson's speech on 10 May drew 27.5 million viewers, for example, while the Queen's address on 5 April drew 24 million viewersd.

Spending more time in front of the television inevitably increases electricity usage in other ways too. After all, you're not just turning on the TV set in the dark; you're also switching on the lamps, firing up the kettle, and turning on the heating or fans for maximum TV viewing comfort.

4. New morning routines

With many schools and offices closed during lockdown, UK households embraced a new morning routine. Instead of waking up early to get ready on time for the daily commute, people began having a morning lie-in.

As a result, the average household consumed 18% less energy in the morninge avoiding the typical morning buzz of energy-sucking activities such as showering, turning on the kettle, and watching the news.

How to lower your energy usage at home

Using more household energy doesn't just increase your carbon footprint—it can also drain your wallet. But there are lots of easy ways to keep your bills down and save energy.

  • Use a smart thermostat to set your heating. This makes sure you don't waste energy heating your home when it isn't necessary.
  • Unplug energy-sucking devices. Unplugging devices when you're not using them helps save electricity.
  • Install water-saving devices. Using aerators on your taps and low-flow showerheads to reduce the amount of water you use and the energy needed to heat that water and transfer it through your pipes.
  • Check your boiler. By making sure you have an energy efficient boiler, you can keep your home at the perfect temperature while using less energy and spending less on your heating bills than if you have an older, less efficient boiler.
  • Draughtproof your home. Sealing up air leaks around your windows or doors ensures that hot, or cold, air doesn't escape from your home and affect the indoor temperature.
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs. Trading out your old light bulbs for low energy ones is a simple way to cut back on electricity use.
  • Take advantage of natural light. Setting up your home work station in an area with natural light means you don't have to turn on as many lights for a comfortable workspace.
  • Wait until you have a full dishwasher or washing machine. Maximising your washing loads helps save energy and water.
  • Get a smart meter. Using a smart meter helps you visualise and track your energy use, so you can see where you need to cut down.

Household energy usage surged during the first UK-wide lockdown, but that doesn't mean you have to use more energy than necessary this time around. By knowing how you can save energy around the house and finding the right energy tariff for you, you can keep your energy bills affordable – even when spending more time at home.


a. This is Money: Are you facing a 40% Covid electric shock? Increased laptop charging and Netflix binges mean energy use has surged and many now face steeper bills

b. The Independent: More than a fifth of people cooking every meal from scratch due to coronavirus lockdown, Tesco finds

c. Kantar Worldpanel: How will Covid-19 lockdown impact our eating habits?

d. BBC News: Coronavirus: The Queen's message seen by 24 million

e. National Grid: 4 ways lockdown life affected UK electricity use