What does an average family use?
An average family that uses natural gas for heating consumes 17,000 kWh of gas annually: 15,000 kWh for heating the home and 2,000 kWh for domestic hot water. In addition, an additional 1,000 kWh of electricity is consumed on average per person in a family. So for a family of four, it comes down to 4,000 kWh. Anyone who enters into an energy contract with this consumption today must pay more than 9,000 euros on an annual basis. This corresponds to more than 750 euros per month. This consumption can of course vary according to the type of home (open, semi-open or closed), the type of heating system, the degree of insulation of the house and the behavior of the residents.
Where does all that energy go?
“Heating the house takes the biggest bite out of the energy budget: no less than 60 percent,” says Bart Wouters of the grid operator Fluvius. “In addition, the energy is used mainly for hot water (15 percent), lighting (6 percent), cooling and freezing (6 percent), washing, drying, ironing and washing up (5 percent) and cooking (5 percent). The remaining energy consumption still amounts to 3 percent.”
Ten tips to save energy
1. Turn your thermostat down one degree
“21°C is seen as the ideal indoor temperature in a home,” says Geert Flipts from the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency. “But in these expensive times, more and more people choose to turn down their thermostat to 18 or 19°C in combination with an extra sweater. If you set the thermostat one degree lower, you save around 7 percent on the annual consumption.” With current energy prices, you can save almost 500 euros.
2. Use your thermostat flexibly
You can save a lot of energy by using your room thermostat flexibly. “You can, for example, select 16°C or below as the night temperature. It is best to set the lower temperature 15 minutes or half an hour before you go to sleep,” says Flipts. “The temperature can get even lower if you are away for a long time.” Good day-night control reduces the consumption of a heater by around 10 percent, which gives an annual saving of almost 700 euros.
3. Heat smaller rooms
It is not always necessary to heat every room in your house. “In the room where the room thermostat is installed, the radiator valves of all radiators should always be set to the maximum setting,” says Flipts. “In most bedrooms, hallways and storage areas, the radiator valve can be set to the lowest position.”
4. Use less hot water
“After heating the home, the water in the bathroom is the second most important energy consumption in the home,” says Flipts. “The less hot water you use, the less energy you need to heat it up. If you fill a hot bath, you need an average of 120 liters of hot water. For example, it only takes 35 liters of water to take a five-minute shower under an economical shower head. For a standard shower head, this corresponds to 60 litres. Showering is therefore cheaper than taking a bath, unless you use a rain shower head, because 125 liters flow through it in 5 minutes.”
5. Set the washing machine to a lower temperature
If you turn on the washing machine three times a week, it will consume around 180 kWh annually. “A washing machine primarily uses energy to heat up the water. The higher the washing temperature, the more energy consumption,’ says Flipts. “Clothes that are not heavily soiled are cleaned at 30°C or even 20°C. A wash at 30°C uses half as much energy as a wash at 60°C and a quarter less than at 40°C.”
6. Use an energy-efficient dryer
An energy-efficient drying cabinet consumes around 200 kWh on average. “For an old tumble dryer, that consumption can be up to almost 400 kWh. “That comes down to ten percent of the total electricity costs for a family on an annual basis,” says Flipts. It is best to replace a dryer when it is older than seven years.
7. Save on refrigeration and freezing
An efficient refrigerator with a fridge-freezer combination uses around 170 kWh per year. A 10-year-old appliance requires three times as much energy. “So replace your refrigerator in time,” says Flipts. “The ideal temperature for a refrigerator is 4 to 5°C, for the freezer it is -18°C.” The fuller your fridge is, the less it uses. You must then defrost your freezer regularly. An ice layer of 2 mm gives an additional consumption of 10 per cent.
8. Install LED lighting everywhere
“Old incandescent and halogen lamps waste a lot of energy. They still work with a filament, which means they not only produce light but also heat,” says Flipts. “So replace the old lamps with LED lamps as much as possible. An old 40 Watt lamp uses no less than seven times more energy than a 5 Watt LED lamp, while providing the same amount of light.”
9. Turn off the standby power
Many appliances in the house use energy when you are not actually using them. “If you switch off computers, TVs, digicords, chargers, dimmers for floor lamps… completely after use, a family of four can save an average of 1 percent on their electricity bill. A multi-socket with an on and off button can be useful here,” says Flipts.
10. Insulate your home
By properly insulating your house, you can save many hundreds of euros every year. With current energy prices, good roof insulation saves 1,500 euros, for wall insulation there are 900 euros on an annual basis. Floor insulation and better insulating windows provide 600 euros each on an annual basis.