Average gas and electricity use explained

Sometimes energy prices refer to a typical household – but what does that actually mean?

The energy price cap and price guarantee set a maximum price that energy suppliers can charge consumers for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy they use. 

The price cap, a government protection calculated by Ofgem, ensures that prices for customers on the default energy tariffs are fair and cost reflective. The price guarantee is a temporary measure, introduced by government, to protect consumers from recent significant increases in wholesale gas prices.

The price cap and the price guarantee are calculated using Typical Domestic Consumption Values (TDCVs), which give consumers an idea of the average energy use of different households. These values are also useful for comparing energy prices and are often used to estimate the quotes on supplier and price comparison websites.

Understanding average use for gas and electricity

Gas and electricity bills are calculated partly on how much energy you use, as well as things like network and wholesale costs. Your usage depends on many factors, including:

  • the size of your home
  • the energy efficiency of your home
  • how many people live in your home
  • the energy efficiency of your appliances and how often you use them
  • your health.

Kilowatt hours

Energy usage is calculated in kilowatt hours (kWh), sometimes also called ‘units’. One kWh is enough to power a 100-watt lightbulb for 10 hours.

Some other examples from around your home: 

  • fridge-freezer: expect to use 1 kWh in 26 hours
  • electric oven: expect to use 2 kWh for 30 minutes of use
  • tumble dryer: expect to use 4.5 kWh in a single cycle.

*These examples are based on typical appliance appliances. Individual appliances can vary. 

Ofgem estimates the typical household in Britain uses 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas in a year. 

Typical Domestic Consumption

Caps on energy prices, like the Energy Price Cap or the Energy Price Guarantee, limit the cost of energy per kWh. Sometimes the typical values below are used to explain what bills might look like for homes with low, medium (or typical), and high energy use.

Typical values

The energy price cap is calculated using the values below.

Energy Use

Example – home type and number of residents

Typical annual gas use (kWh)

Typical annual electricity use (kWh)


Flat or 1-bedroom house; 1-2 people




2-3 bedroom house; 2-3 people




4+ bedroom home; 4-5 people




For example, if the media reports that the Energy Price Guarantee is going up to £3,000 per year for a typical household, it means a household using the medium (or typical) amount of energy in a year. This is used to provide a general idea of how high or low energy bills are getting, but may not exactly represent what your specific energy bill will look like.

Find out more about the energy price cap and energy price guarantee.

Find out more about the Priority Services Register, a free support service that makes sure extra help is available for people in a vulnerable situation.

Guidance on reducing energy use and preventing heat loss.