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Trending household gadgets - Super smart home hacks or false economies?

  • More than half of Brits (56%) have bought new household appliances and gadgets in the past 12 months in a bid to be more energy efficient
  • 81% are making a conscious effort to be more energy efficient when using home appliances
  • A new formula reveals a new air fryer could take less than four years to pay for itself at current energy prices* if used instead of a standard oven
  • 43% of people who have switched to a smart meter say the in-home display has helped them to be more energy efficient
  • Smart Energy GB has partnered with Energy Saving Trust to create a new formula to help households assess the true efficiency of their home appliances

The energy and cost-of-living crisis is leading many to evaluate their energy use at home.

New research from Smart Energy GB, as part of its Super Smart Home Hacks campaign, shows that more than half of Brits (56%) are investing in new household gadgets to help them reduce their energy costs and save money in the future.

In fact, the average British household has spent £645 on household appliances and devices in the past 12 months with one in six investing in an air fryer (15%).

It has been revealed that tech and gadgets like air fryers and heated clothes racks are a sage investment, however others may be a false economy. In partnership with Energy Saving Trust, a new formula has been created to help Brits assess which gadgets are really worth the investment, to help them save energy and reduce bills.                 

In British households, air fryers and heated clothes dryers are among the most cost-efficient appliances, taking less than five years to pay off the investment through the amount of energy saved (compared to ovens and tumble dryers). Simple desk top fans are also a popular choice for Brits when looking to keep cool and can run for 8 hours a day and still cost less than using a small air conditioner for 20 minutes. But some devices don’t fare so well when it comes to cost efficiency – a games console could take Brits more than 35 years to make back the investment, compared to PC gaming which is a significantly more efficient means of entertainment.

This new data will be welcomed by the 81% of Brits who are making a conscious effort to be more energy efficient and the 28% of people who state that home energy management is currently ‘top of their agenda’.

As well as bringing into question the energy efficiency of their household appliances and gadgets, Brits are implementing actionable changes too, with 55% only boiling the kettle with the amount of water needed, 33% choosing to use a microwave over a hob, and one in four (24%) turning to their smart meter’s in-home display to monitor their energy use more closely.

And when it comes to energy use, knowledge is power. Over a third of Brits (39%) say that being able to monitor the cost of using household appliances in near real-time would help them understand more about controlling how much energy they use. Similarly, knowing which appliances in their home use the most energy (41%), the ability to better control their energy usage (35%) and seeing in near real-time how much energy they are using (34%) would prove useful – all of which are available to owners of a smart meter.

Victoria Bacon, Director at Smart Energy GB said:

For many households, the lack of control when it comes to managing high energy prices is a real concern. We want to cut through the noise and help people understand what types of appliances are worth investing in when it comes to energy efficiency.

“Partnering with Energy Saving Trust, we’ve gathered information on the appliances many of us use day-to-day and assessed which will prove the most cost effective in the long run. But you don’t necessarily need to buy new appliances to make savings, as there are simple and cost-free things such as turning down your combi-boiler flow rate, taking shorter showers, or lowering your thermostat by 1 degree, that could make a big difference. 

“Seeing the impact of these things on our energy bills is the key to using them effectively. A smart meter’s in-home display shows your energy use in near real-time and can be a vital tool for anyone wanting more control over their energy spend.”

With energy use such a hot topic in homes across Britain, the new data shows that one in five Brits (20%) admit the number of appliances they use makes them nervous about receiving their energy bills. A third (33%) even regret some of their household appliance and device purchases, due to the impact on their energy bills, and more than half (56%) of people use some of their home appliances, gadgets and technology less often now.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, the factors influencing our purchase decisions are also evolving. It’s no longer just the reviews and aesthetics that savvy Brits look at when buying new appliances and devices, over two-thirds (69%) now pay greater attention to the energy efficiency rating of products than they did before the energy prices increased.

Brian Horne, Technical Knowledge Lead at Energy Saving Trust said:

“There’s a lot of confusion and misconceptions around the role of household appliances and our energy consumption in the home. With the help of our handy formula, our aim - in partnership with Smart Energy GB - is to equip the nation with better knowledge and understanding of energy use so they can make simple swaps to better manage their household energy consumption.”

Reflecting on the benefits of getting a smart meter, 43% claim the in-home display has helped them to be more energy efficient, 40% claim they are able to better manage their energy usage, while 38% have been encouraged to implement more energy efficient habits around the home. And with so much money being spent on other tech and appliances, it may be a comfort to know that you can get a smart meter installed at no additional cost.

Angellica Bell, TV presenter & Consumer Champion said:

“The energy and cost-of-living crisis has affected lots of people over the past 12 months, with many households concerned about how to pay their bills. This is why I’ve partnered with Smart Energy GB to bring the efficiency of household appliances into question, and offer advice on how people can make small, positive changes to the way they use appliances, and in turn reduce costs.”

For more information on the Super Smart Home Hacks campaign and to find out more about getting a smart meter installed, search ‘get a smart meter’.

Smart Energy GB’s Household Energy Saving Hacks

  • For those looking to be more energy efficient in the kitchen, the trusty air fryer is a great option, saving an average of £45 a year in energy. Not only is it usually quicker than oven cooking but it’s also more cost effective, taking just three and a half years to make back the money invested in energy saved.
  • When it comes to drying clothes, the heated drying rack is a reliable and cost-effective option. Though it may take longer to dry clothes than a tumble dryer, it can save households approximately £40 per year taking less than five years to make back the original investment.
  • For individuals looking to keep a bit warmer while they’re sitting still, opting for a heated blanket as opposed to an electric heater is marginally more efficient and can save you around £7 per year.
  • In the warmer months, those looking to keep cool at night should opt for an electric fan over an air conditioning unit. Impressively, an electric fan can run all night (8 hours) and use the same amount of energy as an air conditioning unit does in just 15 minutes.
  • Gaming can be energy intensive, depending on your computing power and the games you play. If you have a high-spec gaming PC, you might be wondering if it’s worth switching to a games console to save on your energy bills and still play your favourite games. Typically, you could save around £10 a year on your electricity bills by making the switch, but it’s a significant investment – one that might take you 35 years to pay back!
  • When it comes to the need for boiling water (e.g. for cooking pasta), many think that boiling water in a kettle first as opposed to on the hob is a quicker and more efficient means. This is correct, but if you have a gas hob it will still be cheaper than the kettle, because electricity costs more than gas.
  • Households could save a whopping £145 per year simply by turning the thermostat in their home down by 1°C
  • And finally… shortening shower time to a maximum of 4 minutes could save a household £95 per year

Click here to watch Angellica Bell visit the home of smart meter owner Lou, to put the energy efficiency of household appliances to the test.


Notes to Editors

Mentioned formula is as follows; rated power x capacity factor x hours used. Rated power assumed from retail analysis to determine most common product for that scenario.

*Prices based on Energy Price Guarantee April 2023 – 34p/kWh for electricity and 10.3p/kWh for gas

**Energy prices are set to fall later in the year, as such energy efficient tech and appliances could take longer to recoup their costs moving forward

***Smart Energy GB’s Household Energy Saving Hacks

  1. Assumes single portion lasagne cooked until piping hot and following manufacturer's directions. Air fryer rated 1000W and used for 22 minutes, electric oven rated 2200W and used for 41 minutes.
  2. Assumes B-rated 8kg tumble dryer on normal setting, versus drying rack on for 10 hours per use. Does not consider additional heat requirement for additional ventilation that may be required for drying clothes indoors on rack. Assumes 178 instances per year (laundry per year outside of summer months, when laundry can be dried outside).
  3. Assumes heater 650W and used at maximum setting for 2 hours per use, heated blanket rated 150W and used at maximum setting for 2 hours per use. Incidences per year based on number of HDD for September 2022 to January 2023, from UK Government data. Cost and power used based on specific products used in advert.
  4. Assumes actively playing games, based on a 2021 survey by The State of Online. Gaming that suggested the average person enjoys 8.6 hours a week. Games console is paired with a 65" G-rated TV, most common TV size and rating in retail survey. Gaming PC paired with monitor, with gaming PC specification. Cost assumes household already owns TV, so just cost of adding games console plus one controller. Does not include cost of games.
  5. Assumes boiling 500ml water in a saucepan with lid on a gas hob at a medium setting, versus boiling 500ml water in an electric kettle. Total energy required around half total energy required by gas hob, but electricity price is 34p/kWh versus gas at approximately 10.3p/kWh means the kettle costs around 1p more per use.
  6. A 22W electric fan running for 8 hours uses approximately the same amount of energy as a 680W air-conditioning unit will use in 15 minutes. Depending on comfort levels, a basic range electric fan is estimated to cost £18, so could pay for itself within a year if user currently uses air-conditioning unit for longer than 1.6 hours per day.

 About Smart Energy GB

Smart Energy GB is the independent, non-profit, government-backed organisation that helps households and small businesses across Great Britain to understand how smart meters can benefit them, their families and the environment. 

We do this by working collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders including charities and voluntary organisations to reach people throughout the country, including those in vulnerable circumstances, who may otherwise miss out on the opportunity to get a smart meter. 

Our campaign explains the impact that having a smart meter installed has, including helping the country to build a more a reliable and affordable energy system, and how the accompanying in-home display can help you take control of your energy use and manage your household budget.