Trying to find reliable benchmark home gas usage

Hi,
We switched to Bulb just over 6 months ago, and are on a mission to decarbonise our lifestyles. Getting entirely off gas is an ambition, and I recently discovered that we have been using something like 25-30,000 kWh of gas a year. Unfortunately, a consequence of switching is that I don’t have access to my historic gas usage as my old a/c is closed.

We have a 4 bedroom 1960’s detached house, which is quite efficiently insulated and we are pretty careful about how we heat it. GAs is only for hot water and heating, and doesn’t include a large area which is underfloor (elec) heated. This usage level seems incredibly high to me, but it’s seemingly impossible to find some reliable benchmark information about what is a ‘normal’ usage level for a home like ours.
Any tips please?
Thanks!

OFGEM define an “average consumer” as someone who uses 12000kWh of gas annually.

I live in a 3-bed semi-detached house, built in the 40s (post-war). Like you, I use gas for heating (set very low, as I don’t like to be hot) and (modest) cooking.

I had cavity-wall insulation fitted a few years after I moved in, and that cut my gas bill substantially.

The old (ancient, really) boiler died about 3 or 4 years ago, and was replaced with a modern combi boiler (losing the h/w cylinder in the process), and that has cut my consumption significantly again. Note that the radiators are unchanged, and the heating applies to the whole house (no zones or TRVs).

Enclosing the front porch, and an ongoing programme to replace nasty 70s aluminium double glazing have also contributed smaller reductions.

My annual consumption now is ~4000kWh for gas.

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Steve, great of you to share your experience, sounds like you’ve made real inroads. Will take a look at OFGEM in case they’ve any more colour to add. Thanks

Hi @murrayb,

For a house of your size, we’d predict an average yearly usage of around 11820kWh for gas.

UK Power have released the following figures regarding gas usage, which can be used as a guide for your own consumption: (https://www.ukpower.co.uk/home_energy/average-household-gas-and-electricity-usage)

Low household gas consumption is roughly defined as 8,000kWh, rising to 12,000kWh for average consumption and 17,000kWh for high consumption. This means that average gas usage per month works out at 1,000 kWh. Typically, gas usage increases by 2,500kWh for each extra bedroom in your home.

Any other questions, please do let us know.

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On my to-do list is to fit better loft insulation - there is some, but it’s only just about to the top of the joists (ie ~3"-4") rather than modern standards (which now specify 10"!). But I’m unsure whether to insulate the rafters (ie allowing some heat for the loft) or the joists (lowering the current loft temperature).

good luck, thats an area we need to investigate, what we have up there I suspect is very low spec

Thanks GeorgieS. Can Bulb advise/recommend where to turn to to help us crack this? I simply cannot fathom how we can be using so much gas, it just does not stack up that we (25+ mWh) are well above the high usage level (17mWh). I’d like to hire someone to come and do an audit or something, so we point our efforts to reduce our usage in the right direction.

Can you offer some advice? Thanks

Hi @murrayb, it’s fab to hear that you’re on a quest to become more energy efficient. I’ve listed some info below that will hopefully be helpful :grinning:

Simple Energy Advice offer some great support. I’m not sure whether they do an audit as you’ve mentioned but they’ll be able to send you in the right direction if a such a thing is available. They also have a home energy efficiency calculator.

This article offers some good heating advice. You’ve mentioned your property is well insulated but it might be worth checking your hot water tank and pipe insulation too.

You could also take a look at our home renovation tips, energy efficient appliances and 10 simple ways to lower your energy bills (although this one is more electricity focused).

Let me know how you get on with these!

Does the number of people in the house matter?
We used around 8500kwh gas a year.
We are 3 bedroom house with just 2 adults, and a 7 month old baby.
The heating has been switched off since around May, and used it a few times in the last week. I don’t think our boiler is particularly efficient.
We cooking daily (gas hob, electric oven).

We live in a sort of mid/end terrace built in 1990. One side joins with the neighbours house, the other has a garage which joins that neighbour’s garage. Our garage isn’t heated or insulated.
We have 3 bedrooms (mostly like 2 and a small single/office). We have an old conservatory that isn’t insulated well at all - freezing in the winter, and loads of heat escapes into there from the kitchen.
We also have 3 old wooden double glazed windows that let in so much cold air (and noise. finally being replaced tomorrow). The living room radiator heat rises straight up the stairs and out of one of those windows (with cold air constantly falling in).
The cavity walls were filled by the previous owners.
Loft is insulated to some extent but the loft-door isn’t insulated, and I don’t think the insulation is as thick as today’s standards.

If your habits aren’t much different from mine or Steve’s, I think the first thing I’d do is get a friend/relative round to do some sniffing and see if there’s a minor gas leak…

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If possible, I’d start by testing what happens if you switch all gas appliances off for one day, and reading the meter at the start and end of that period, just to verify that zero consumption equates to a zero reading.

Given that you’re likely to want the heating on regularly fairly soon, I’d try the above ASAP! :wink:

If you don’t get a zero reading, then you know there’s a problem that needs investigating (either a leak or a faulty meter).

Your party wall between you and the neighbour might not be a proper cavity wall, which won’t help (although in principle, if both houses are heated, it shouldn’t be material).

However, the wall between you and your garage should be, so lack of insulation in the garage is theoretically not an issue. It probably wouldn’t hurt to fit some there anyway (if nothing else, it’ll make the garage less chilly).

Fixing this (either insulating the conservatory, or putting a good door between kitchen and conservatory) should make a good difference.

I reckon you’ll be much happier once those are done! :smile:

If it was built in 1990, I’d have expected the cavities to be insulated as part of the build (see links below), and I’d also have thought the loft insulation would be fairly respectable (ie better than mine, but not up to the current standard).

This is an interesting read:
How building regulations have changed over time

Also this one (though not as good as the one above):
Building Regulations And U-values: How have they changed?