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Energy expert calculates cost of Christmas and reveals how to cut £100 bill

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Christmas is already an expensive time but with energy bills rising, many will be feeling more stress than usual about the cost of this year’s festivities.

Les Roberts, content manager at Bionic, has calculated the average cost of all the appliances you are likely to use this Christmas and has provided top tips for cutting your energy bills whilst still enjoying the festivities. 

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Les has calculated that an average household could spend around £100 just by using electrical appliances over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & Boxing Day.

Some of the main costs and energy saving tips include:

  • Cooking a Christmas lunch in an electric oven will cost an estimated £3.06 whilst an average dishwashing load will cost 51p
  • Money can be saved by cooking a turkey crown or breast joint in a slow cooker, which would cost just 5p per hour and only running full loads in the dishwasher
  • LED lights run on 25% less wattage than incandescent lights so will cut costs drastically and using solar panelled outdoor lights can reduce bills
  • You could spend around £71 watching the TV over just one week this Christmas but remembering to turn off your set at the wall could save £40 per year
  • Using a portable heater could add £10 to your weekly electricity cost and it is much more cost effective to use central heating
  • Turning down your thermostat by just 1 degree could save you 10% on your energy bill whilst installing a heat pump could slash bills by 30%

How much does Christmas cooking and washing dishes cost?

Christmas celebrations involve a lot of food preparation. Between the Christmas cake, the turkey roast, party food and more it can feel like the oven is constantly on.

A typical electric oven uses about 3,000W of power which means it currently costs about £1.02 an hour to run. If the oven is on for three hours when cooking a Christmas roast, the cost will be £3.06. A typical electric hob uses 2,000W of power so will cost 68p per hour.

The average dishwasher uses between 1.2-1.5 kWh per load but this can vary depending on the running cost of your specific model, the cycle you use and your current energy tariff.

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Your dishwasher’s kWh will be printed either on the energy rating label or in the manual. If your dishwasher runs on 1.5 kWh for a 1 hour cycle and your energy costs 34p per KwH (the average under the price cap) the calculation will be: 1.5 x 34 = 51p for 1 load.

How to save money on cooking and washing dishes

  • You could consider an alternative cooking method for your roast, such as a slow cooker or air fryer. A slow cooker costs just 5p per hour to run and is considered the most energy efficient kitchen appliance. Why not attempt to slow cook a turkey crown or breast joint and master crispy roast potatoes in the air fryer this Christmas?
  • When boiling vegetables, turn the hob off before the end of the cooking time. The remaining heat will cook your vegetables through whilst the amount of energy used is reduced.
  • Make sure to time the cooking of your Christmas lunch to perfection, cooking as many items as you can simultaneously to cut down on the amount of time that the oven is on.
  • Make sure to only run your dishwasher on a full load to be cost efficient, and consider using your machine’s eco setting.
  • If you have an older dishwasher model with a low energy rating, it could be time to invest in a new, more efficient machine to save money in the long term.

How much does running Christmas lights cost?

Your Christmas lights should have their wattage on the label, in the instructions or on the box. LED lights will have a much lower wattage, so will use significantly less energy. Once you have the wattage of your lights, divide it by 1000 to find the kWh. This is how much energy the lights will use in the hour.

If your lights run on 5-watts , divide 5 by 1000 to convert to kilowatt-hours, giving you 0.005 kWh. If you want to use your Christmas tree lights for the evening for 3 hours, multiply 0.005 by 3 to get 0.015kW. Your lights will use 0.015kW in those 3 hours. If your energy costs 34p per kWh, multiply 34 by 0.015 and you will have the cost to run your lights, which is 51p for 3 hours.

How to save money on running Christmas Lights

  • Whilst incandescent bulbs can use around 40 watts for a 100 light string, the same number of LED lights will run on around 25% of this wattage, so your running cost will be cut drastically. The Christmas lights you’ve had for years are more likely to be incandescent so it could be time to buy some cost efficient LEDs for your tree this year.
  • Remember to only switch on your Christmas lights in rooms that you are using and switch them off, from the wall, when you leave. Only switch on your lights when it is dark outside.
  • It could be worth using battery powered lights, instead of mains powered decorations. However, if you are planning to use your lights for long periods of time, batteries will run down quickly and repeatedly buying new ones could make this the more expensive option. If you want to add some festive lights to your outdoor space, consider using solar paneled outdoor lighting instead of lights which will drive up your energy bill.

How much does using your TV cost during Christmas?

The running cost of your television will depend greatly on the size and model. Your TV will have an energy efficiency label which states the kWh. To find the running cost per hour, you can multiply the kWh by the cost of your energy per kWh.

Media regulator Ofcom found that in 2021, we spent an average of 5 hours watching TV per day or 35 hours weekly. If your television runs on 60 watts, this can be divided by 1000 to calculate the kWh. 0.06 kWh can then be multiplied by your energy cost per kWh to find the cost over 1 hour. 0.06 x 34 = £2.04. This would rack up to £71 if the TV was used for 35 hours in a week.

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How to save money on watching TV?

  • Leaving your TV on standby means it is still using as much as 75% of the energy. Switching off appliances from the wall could save your household up to £40 over a year.
  • Turning down the brightness on your television or opting for a smaller screen will also reduce running costs, but may negatively impact your watching experience.
  • Limiting your screen time this Christmas will reduce your energy bill. Why not take a winter walk or play a board game with the family as an alternative? Always remember to turn off the TV when you leave the room.

How much does heating your home cost?

The cost of running your central heating will depend on the type of system you have installed, how well your home is insulated, the size of your home and the overall energy efficiency of your property. Gas central heating is the most common type in the UK and is the cheaper option currently, due to skyrocketing electricity prices. Checkatrade have calculated that a 24 kW gas boiler costs £2.76 an hour to run on mains gas.

Temperatures are plummeting and are likely to stay frosty this December. You might be tempted to boost your home’s temperature by using a portable heater. Like other electrical appliances, the running cost can be calculated by multiplying the Kw of your heater by the price of your energy per kWh. If you have a 2kW heater and your energy costs 34p per kWh, the heater will cost 68p an hour to run. Even if you only run the heater for 2 hours a day, over a week, this would add an extra £9.52 on to your Christmas expenses.

How to save money on heating over Christmas

  • It is much cheaper to use your central heating system than portable heaters. Make sure to shop around for the most cost efficient and reliable boiler to drive down running and maintenance costs.
  • The ideal temperature range for a home is between 18-21 degrees. To save on your energy bills, keep to the lower end of this range. Turning your thermostat down by just 1 degree could reduceyour heating bills by as much as 10%. Using a timer on your thermostat could also prevent your system running all day and heating unused rooms.
  • It is estimated the heat pumps could reduce your boiler usage by 80% and reduce a well insulated home’s energy bills by around 30%. A heat pump has the potential to lower energy bills as unlike your current boiler, which runs from the burning of fossil fuels, you will only pay for the electricity you use to run the heat pump.
  • You could get a residential energy audit where an expert will offer in depth advice on saving energy around your specific home and suggest equipment, such as cavity wall insulation.
brown acorn near clear long stem wine glass

How much will Christmas Day, Eve and Boxing Day cost overall?

Bionic have estimated that you could rack up a bill of around £100 over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & Boxing Day just by using your electrical appliances. This calculation is based on using the oven for 9 hours, the dishwasher for 3 loads, your Christmas lights for 15 hours, the television for 5 hours per day, your central heating system for 5 hours per day and a portable heater for 2 hours per day, over the 3 Christmas days.

Les suggests rethinking the time of day large appliances, such as dishwashers, are being used: 

“It is also worth noting that if you are currently on a time of use tariff or off-peak tariff, the price of energy will be lower at times when the grid is under less pressure and demand is lowest, which tends to be between 10pm-8am. Costs can sometimes be 50% lower during these hours so it is worth putting your Christmas day dishwasher load on overnight, for example.”

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