Personal Finance

Energy habits causing most family arguments revealed - but how much do they actually cost?

The energy usage gripes that cause the most family arguments have been revealed - but are they the habits costing you the most money?

Families argue about leaving the lights on in empty rooms more than once a week on average, new research by USwitch suggests.

Half of all households have the row, with homes with children under the age of 18 clashing over the lights 58 times a year.

However, research shows leaving a 4.2W LED bulb on for an extra four hours a day would only add £1.75 to electricity bills over a year.

Using the tumble dryer instead of airing clothes only causes rows in 25% of families, but costs 81.5p per use. So families would only need to use a tumble dryer three times to waste more money than a year of leaving the light on.

More than a third of households (38 percent) argue about leaving the television on while no one is watching. A 70W TV left on for four hours costs 8p in energy, according to USwitch.

However only 20 percent of families argue over running the dishwasher when it's not full, but this costs 23p per use.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of households argue about the cost of heating, and 40 percent clash about leaving doors open to the outside.

Thermostat wars are also common, with 35 percent of families disagreeing over the temperature. Increasing the temperature by one degree increases an annual heating bill by 10 percent, the Energy Saving Trust estimates.

Natalie Mathie, energy expert at, said: “The high cost of energy is causing friction in a lot of UK households, but everyone in the home can play a part in reducing their usage.

“Getting into good habits as a household can save a lot of money, and even small and simple changes such as turning off lights or TVs when not in use can all add up.

“While leaving a light on will cost very little over the course of a year, the cost of regularly running extra loads in the washing machine and dishwasher could set households back a few pounds every month."

USwitch has created a free app called Utrack which connects to a user's smart meter to give detailed insights into usage and ways to save money. It has hourly graphs comparing gas and electricity use by day, week, month and year.

Subject of argument% of households that argue about thisPotential cost
Leaving lights on in empty rooms50%A 4.2W LED bulb left on for an additional four hours every day would add £1.75 to bills over a year.
Cost of heating44%
Leaving doors open to the outside40%
Energy bills39%
Leaving the TV on with no one watching38%A 70W TV left on for four hours would cost 8p in energy.
Leaving windows open35%

The temperature of the thermostat
35%Increasing the temperature by one degree increases your annual heating bill by about 10%, the Energy Saving Trust estimates.
Having the heating on when people aren’t wearing a jumper34%
Keeping appliances on standby31%Desktop computer left on standby for 24 hours costs 0.5p, a Playstation 5 costs 0.3p.
Leaving the fridge door open30%
Cost of showers & baths29%10 minutes in a 7.5kW shower costs 36p. A four minute shower costs 14p.
Too much time spent on games consoles27%Five hours on a Playstation 5 costs 30p.
Running the washing machine when it isn’t full27%A washing machine running using 0.712kWh per cycle costs 19p each time.
Using the tumble dryer (instead of airing clothes)25%A tumble dryer with a 3.02kWh cycle costs 81.5p per use.
Poorly stacking the dishwasher resulting in extra loads25%A dishwasher using 0.79kWh of energy, costs 23p per use.
Running the dishwasher when it isn’t full20%A dishwasher using 0.79kWh of energy, costs 23p per use.

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


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