Energy usage figures have shown how Brits’ daily routines have changed since the start of the lockdown – from eating their dinner earlier than normal to waking up later.
With the nation encouraged to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are shaking up their routines and using energy at different times of the day.
The data suggests that with no commute to the office, people are waking up later and there is now a surge in electricity usage being seen at 8am, compared to 7am pre-lockdown.
Lunchtimes appear to be taking place at around 1pm and bring a 38 per cent increase in energy usage, as households combine energy needed to cook food with working from home.
The figures from British Gas, using data from more than a million of its smart meter customers, also show dinner time has been brought forward, with an energy spike now taking place at 6pm compared to between 7pm and 8pm previously.
Bedtimes are showing to be roughly the same with demand dropping off between 10pm and midnight, as expected.
However, it seems more Brits than ever have become night owls, with some staying up late to watch TV or play video games, with higher electricity use being seen between 1am and 4am.
Joanna Flowers, British Gas service and repair engineer, said: “The world is a very different place compared to this time two months ago. When it comes to energy, we’ve changed how much we use, and when we use it.
“There are some simple things people can do around the home to save energy, and to troubleshoot any small problems themselves. This helps minimise demand for home visits, and enables us to prioritise vulnerable customers and emergency response cases.
“I can’t bear the thought of anyone going without a hot shower, so we are doing all we can to attend to emergencies while keeping people safe – like wearing protective clothing and asking customers to wait in another room while we get their boiler working.”
Using its data, British Gas predicts it will receive more than 19,000 breakdown calls in the space of a week.
These are likely to consist of boiler breakdowns as well as essential appliances – including washing machines, fridges and cookers.
Since lockdown began, thousands of British Gas employees have set up remote call centres in their homes, and have taken nearly 600,000 calls from customers looking for support with broken down appliances and help paying their bills.
During this time, complying with social distancing guidelines and safety procedures, engineers have been focusing on emergencies and essential visits.
They have fixed more than 87,000 boilers and 2,500 washing machines, ensuring that everyone has heating and hot water, and can clean their clothes.
The energy and home services provider has also sent 50,000 of its most vulnerable customers pre-loaded prepayment cards totalling more than £6million and has helped more than 14,000 with their payment plans.
Top tips from British Gas on troubleshooting issues around the home, and saving energy where you can:
1. Manage how much energy you use for everyday tasks. You’ll be able to find lots of ideas online, such as using a cooler setting on the washing machine, and then hanging laundry outside instead of relying on radiators or the tumble drier.
2. Maximise efficiency in the kitchen. Most of us are cooking more than usual, which is driving up how much energy we use. There are some simple things you can do about this though, like turning the oven off 10 minutes before your food is ready (it will keep on cooking), and maximising oven time by batch-cooking a few meals at once.
3. Only use the energy that’s needed. This is an obvious one, but make sure to only heat and light the rooms that are in use. People also often underestimate how much energy is wasted by leaving appliances on standby. Similarly, electronics that are left plugged in once fully charged will continue to use energy. Small changes like these make a big difference to your energy bill
4. Maximise the heat. Many people won’t be using their heating while the weather is warmer, but if you are, it’s important to make sure your system is working as efficiently as possible. There’s lots of things you can do at home, like bleeding your radiators to keep everything in tip top shape until your next service
5. Try British Gas Boiler Support on Google Assistant. It can help you to troubleshoot the most common heating and hot water issues and you don’t have to be a British Gas customer to use it. For example, if you think there’s a problem with your boiler, you simply say to your Google Home, Google Nest device or Google Assistant app on your smartphone: “OK Google, talk to Boiler Support”. The system will then help you to figure out the issue.