Brits are overestimating the cost of running household appliances, except for heating

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A new YouGov survey looks at how much Britons think it costs to use certain household appliances, and how close their perceptions are to actual estimates (provided by Bloomberg research).

In summary, Britons tend to overestimate the costs of almost all appliances listed.

Britons are most likely to overestimate the cost of running a washing machine, with the median guess of putting a wash on for 90 minutes – £1.50 – more than four times Bloomberg’s estimate of 36p.

There is one exception, however: heating. The median guess among the public on the cost for a typical household to use gas central heating for 6 hours is £4. However, the Bloomberg estimate, based on a typical home size according to Ofgem, puts the figure at £6.76 on current prices.

That cutting back on heating will save more money than they realise is especially fortunate for consumers, as this is the form of energy reduction Britons are most likely to be taking. In this survey, 52% of people say they are cutting back on using gas central heating – a separate survey found 61% of Britons say they are cutting back on heating in some way, which will include electric central heating users.

The results also show that those who have cut back, or might contemplate cutting back, their use of each of the devices give the highest estimates for how much they cost to use. While this is not necessarily surprising – if you need to make savings, if you think something costs a lot then you’re more likely to cut back than someone who doesn’t’ think it cost a lot – it does have the consequence that those in need who are cutting back will be accruing lower savings than they might expect.

How much does it cost to use a fridge/freezer?

The Bloomberg estimates put a fridge/freezer running for 24 hours at 41p. However, just 11% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer. Seven in ten (70%) think it costs £1 or more to run a fridge/freezer for a day, and 42% think it costs £2 or more.

How much does it cost to use gas central heating?

The Bloomberg estimates put running gas central heating in a home of typical size for six hours at £6.76. However, just 7% of people’s guesses come within £1 either side of this estimate. Two thirds of Britons (68%) underestimate the cost of central heating by more than a pound; 54% put the figure at £4 or less, and 47% at £3 or less.

How much does it cost to use a tumble dryer?

The Bloomberg estimates put having a tumble dryer on for 90 minutes at £1.28. However, just 2% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer. Six in ten (60%) think it costs £2 or more for a single use of the tumble dryer, and 42% think it costs £3 or more per use.

In this case, a large contributing factor to such overestimates is likely to be unfamiliarity: 43% of Britons say they don’t have a tumble dryer.

How much does it cost to use a washing machine?

The Bloomberg estimates put having a washing machine on for 90 minutes at 36p. However, just 4% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer. Three quarters (73%) think it costs £1 or more to run the washing machine, and 45% think it costs £2 or more per use.

How much does it cost to use a dishwasher?

The Bloomberg estimates put having a dishwasher on for two and a half hours at 68p. However, just 4% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer. More than seven in ten (72%) think it costs £1 or more per use of the dishwasher, including 44% who think it costs £2 or more per use.

Again, unfamiliarity is likely to play a part in such overestimates, as 45% of Britons say they don’t have a dishwasher.

How much does it cost to use a phone charger?

The Bloomberg estimates put the cost of charging your phone for six hours at 1p. However, just 15% of people’s guesses came within 10p of this answer. Approaching half (46%) of Britons think it costs £1 or more to charge their phone.

How much does it cost to use an electric oven?

The Bloomberg estimates put having an electric oven on for an hour at 68p. However, just 6% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer. Seven in ten Britons (69%) think it costs £1 or more to have the oven on for an hour, including 39% who think it costs £2 or more.

How much does it cost to use an iron?

The Bloomberg estimates put using an iron on for 30 minutes at 53p. However, just 17% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer. Two in five (43%) think it costs £1 or more to run the iron for half an hour.

How much does it cost to use a gas hob?

The Bloomberg estimates put using a gas hob for 30 minutes at 20p. However, just 16% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer. Half of people (50%) think it costs £1 or more to have the hob burning for half an hour.

How much does it cost to use a kettle?

The Bloomberg estimates put using an electric kettle for a couple of minutes at 5p. However, just 30% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer (in this case 1p to 15p). Three in ten (29%) think it costs £1 or more to put the kettle on.

How much does it cost to use a TV?

The Bloomberg estimates put having the TV on for three hours at 10p. However, just 19% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer (in this case 1p to 20p). Approaching half (46%) think it costs £1 or more to have the TV on for this long.

How much does it cost to use a laptop?

The Bloomberg estimates put using a laptop for eight hours at 27p. However, just 10% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer. More than half of Britons (56%) think it costs at least £1 to use the laptop for a working day, including 34% who think it costs £2 or more.

How much does it cost to use a microwave?

The Bloomberg estimates put using the microwave for a couple of minutes at 3p. However, just 28% of people’s guesses came within 10p either side of this answer (in this case 1p to 13p). Three in ten (30%) think it costs £1 or more to use the microwave.

See the full results here

The sources and assumptions made to calculate estimates can be found on Bloomberg’s website here, or on Twitter here.

Source: YouGov


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