Action: Only part-fill the kettle

This is an old household tip: but it matters even more now because of fast-rising energy prices!

Today’s action is a suggestion that has been around for many years as a way of saving on electricity and gas bills, but it’s important too because of the impact of power use on our carbon emissions.

Simply make sure you only put as much water in the kettle as you need to.

We need to reduce our use of energy in order to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels (alongside, of course, developing sustainable power sources). The more power we use, even in countries where green energy is being generated, the more likely it is that our grids will have to call on coal, oil and gas power stations, especially at peak times.

What to do

It’s very easy. Often, when we fill the kettle, especially first thing in the morning, we fill it to the top, or well over half way, before setting it to boil. We tend to do this even if we are only making a cup of tea or coffee for one or two people.

That water all has to be brought to boiling point, right from the temperature of our cold water supply up to 100 degrees.

In reality, we only need about 1/3 of a litre for a mug of tea, so boiling just over that is enough.

Does it really make much difference?

Yes, it does.

Let’s say you have a 1.7 litre electric kettle (which is pretty typical), and you fill it 3/4 full, to make tea for two people. That means you are boiling about 1300ml of water, instead of (say) 700ml. If you limited the amount in the kettle to 700ml you’d be saving about 45% of the electricity or gas used to make your drink.

That means potentially a 45% reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions associated with that power, and a 45% reduction in the cost of the power used.

We think that 45% is …. a lot!

Why is this important?

We need to reduce our use of energy if we are to have any chance of reducing our overall carbon emissions and keeping global warming – and devastating climate change – under any sort of control. All of the small ways we can reduce household energy consumption, replicated by millions of people, have a part to play in that. Many of the actions listed on this site are based on that same premise.

Collective action is needed and this is just one way of contributing to that, without impacting at all on your lifestyle.

What other benefits are there?


In addition to saving carbon emissions, this small action will:

  • reduce the emission of other pollutants associated with electricity generation or gas use
  • reduce your fuel bills
  • reduce the strain on our power distribution networks at peak times, like the morning coffee!
  • your kettle will come to the boil more quickly
  • your kettle will last longer (scaling will be less)
  • in the summer your kitchen will be cooler, because all that surplus heat has to go somewhere! (Ye cannae change the laws of physics!)

Take action

Next time you make tea or coffee, be more thoughtful of the energy being used to bring it to boiling point. Reducing the volume of water you boil will make a difference to your energy use, but won’t affect the taste of your tea or coffee!

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to our bulletin “Take Action” using the form below, and thank you for your support.

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