Woman looking at energy bills laid out on the table and energy monitor

How much energy am I using?

Ever think about how much energy you use at home? If you’re not sure where to start, this guide tells you what you need to know.

Energy usage - why is it important to know?

You might not think about it too much, but knowing how much energy you’re using is actually really important.

Firstly, your usage directly affects how much you pay for your energy. Energy is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWhs), and the unit rate you see on your energy bills is the cost you pay per kWh you use. So to put it simply, reducing the kWhs you use will reduce your energy bills.

On top of this, employing simple energy-saving measures to cut back on your consumption is also an easy way to do your bit for the environment.

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Can I tell how much gas and electricity I’m using from my energy bill?

You might think it’s difficult to work out your consumption, but simply reading your energy bill is a good place to start. On your bill, the amount of energy you’ve used in the billing period (which is usually two months) will be labelled as ‘consumption/usage’.

However, this does come with a caveat - if marked with an ‘A’ or ‘actual’, this consumption figure relates to your actual usage, while if it’s marked with an ‘E’ or the bill says ‘estimated’, your meter hasn’t been read and your consumption has been based off an estimate.

Taking meter readings

If you do receive an estimated bill, the way to find out your actual consumption is to take an electricity meter reading and/or a gas meter reading.

Once you take the reading, you can either submit it directly to your supplier by phone, text, email or online, or online on the ESB Networks or Gas Networks Ireland websites.

Your electricity and gas meters are also a great way to keep regular track of how much energy you’re using - why not take a note of your meter readings at the start of one week, and then track how much you use in a week? Once you have an idea of your weekly usage, try implementing some energy-saving measures and track it again the following week to see if they’ve helped you cut back on your consumption.

Energy monitors

If keeping track of your usage by reading your meter seems like too much hassle, you could opt for an energy monitor.

These gadgets show you how much electricity you are using at any one time and can help you to change your usage habits and reduce your energy bill. The Eco Eye energy monitor costs just €54.95 and is easy to use.

You won’t need an electrician to install it and and it’s free standing so you can bring it with you to any room in the house.

On top of energy monitors, many smart thermostats will also help you to cut back on energy usage by allowing you to actively monitor and manage the temperature in your home. These thermostats allow you to control your home heating and water boiler really easily when you’re at home, as well as remotely, via an app.

Some of them also ‘learn’ your household’s habits and will adapt the temperature, and when the heating comes on and off, based on the information they pick up over a week or two of usage.

Smart meters - what are they?

Smart meters are the next generation of electricity meter. Among other things, they allow suppliers to read your meter remotely, which could mean an end to estimated bills. In 2017, ESB Networks announced a plan to replace all electricity meters in Ireland with smart meters by 2024.

According to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, the meters will benefit consumers, the economy and the environment. The idea is that smart meters encourage customers to change their behaviour and start to use energy at non-peak times, which would ease pressure on the national grid.

And not only do smart meters mean a potential end to estimated bills, they also mean that energy suppliers can make things like time-of-use tariffs and smart prepayment options available without the need for an additional meter or device in the home.

Smart meters also make much more information readily available to consumers about their energy usage, which should help us all to make more informed choices about our consumption. And trials have shown that when people know there are cheaper tariff periods, they save up to 5 per cent on their bills, so the smart meters could help us all to save some money, too.

How is my energy bill calculated?

Your bill is worked out by multiplying the unit rate (which will vary depending on which tariff you’re on) by your consumption, then adding on the standing charge for your tariff, and the PSO Levy or Carbon Tax, depending on whether you’ve got electricity or gas. After that, VAT is applied at 13.5 per cent on the total.

You can find out more about reading and understanding your energy bill in our dedicated guide.

Using Switcher.ie’s price comparison service

The easiest way to save money on your energy bills is to compare deals and switch to a new supplier if you haven’t done so in a while - this could save you hundreds on your bills each year.

When you use Switcher.ie’s free gas and electricity comparison tool, entering your actual consumption will really help you to get an accurate result and figure out how much you could potentially save by switching.

Once you’ve switched to the best deal for you, the next biggest saving can be made by actively monitoring and reducing your energy use, where possible - our simple energy-saving tips can help you get started.

Compare deals and switch now