Cost of living: UK households can cut energy bills with simple kettle hack as cost of cup of tea soars

The cost of making a cup of tea has increased significantly as food inflation hit a record high

Households across the UK are feeling the pinch as food and energy prices continue to rise, with many bracing for a difficult winter.

Food inflation surged to a record 11.6% last month, jumping well above September’s 10.% and the three-month average rate of 9.7, new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Nielsen Shop Price Index show.

Overall shop prices are now 6.6% higher than they were this time last year, and kitchen staples such as tea bags, milk and sugar have all shot up in price. As for energy bills, the government’s energy price guarantee currently caps bills at 34p per unit of electricity and 10.3p per unit of gas.

However, the guarantee is due to be reviewed in April after it was announced the scheme would only run for six months instead of the two years as initially planned, meaning bills could rise again next year.

Homeowners will also see budgets squeezed following the Bank of England’s interest rate hike on Thursday (3 November). The Bank’s base rate will rise by 0.75 percentage points from 2.25% to 3% in what is the biggest single interest rate rise in more than 30 years.

Boiling more water than you need when making a cup of tea is adding to your energy bill (Photo: Adobe)

The rising cost of living will see many households looking for ways to save money and keep monthly outgoings down, which could include cutting back on heating to switching energy-guzzling appliances off while they are not in use, or using them during off-peak hours.

For those looking to cut costs further, a simple change to making your daily cuppa could help to save those all important pennies.

Overboiling the kettle is costing you money

The average kettle takes three minutes to boil and uses around 3kW of power, according to Uswitch. As of October, the average price per pence/kWh of electricity is 34p. The cost of electricity is measured in kilowatt hours (KWh), equivalent to the power consumption of 1000 watts for an hour.

Most kettles have a 3kW element and these appliances boil one cup of water (235ml) in approximately 45 seconds, meaning it uses around 1.28p per boil. If you have four cups of tea per day, Uswitch says this would cost you £38.06 in electricity per year.

However, heating larger amounts of water costs more money, so if you are heating a full kettle of around 1.7 litres, the boiling time rises to four minutes, at a cost of 6.8p every boil, or £49.64 per year.

A whopping 2,649,792 kWh of electricity is wasted each day to boil the extra water, with overfilling adding an eye-watering £900,900 a day to the nation’s energy bill, according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association (UKTIA).

Research by the UKTIA said out of 1,000 UK tea drinkers in its poll, fewer than one in five boiled the recommended amount of water when making a single mug of tea, with almost half boiling three or more times the water than needed. In addition, research found that 70% left the water to cool down and later boiled it again, while a further one in 10 poured the water down the sink.

The UKTIA is encouraging all tea drinkers to be ‘smart boilers’ and to only boil the amount of water needed for a brew once, helping to save on energy costs and be more environmentally-friendly.

Dr Sharon Hall, head of the UKTIA, said: “The UK is a tea drinking nation and everyone loves their tea breaks, so it really can make a difference to boil only what you need. Using your mug to measure out the water for one or two cuppas is easy to do, yet our survey found that only a third of people were doing this routinely.

“Following the Smart Boil guidelines to fill the kettle with only the water you need is good for the planet as well as your budget. The 2.6 million kWh of electricity saved each day would be enough to provide electricity to 112 average homes for a year or is equivalent to 1.5 million miles of car journeys.”

Dr Hall added: “Boiling just what you need is also good for the flavour of tea which develops best when made with freshly boiled water. The lack of oxygen bubbles in re-boiled water can give tea a flat taste. Just over half (53%) of people in our survey were aware of this fact.

“So next time you make a brew, use your mug to measure out just the water you need for the number of cuppas you are making and ‘smart boil’.”