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Survey highlights UK’s shocking energy waste

By Katie Anderson on June 26, 2012

The results of a ground-breaking study into the nations energy use has just been published and it reveals quite a few shocks and surprises. 

The most alarming revelation of all pertained to the amount of money being wasted unnecessarily by homeowners leaving gadgets on standby. And we’re not just talking small change here either – the nation is wasting a shocking £13 billion every single year!

Energy Saving Trust partnered up with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to conduct the research, which has been collated and presented in a report entitled ‘Powering the Nation’. The report was commissioned to uncover the electricity consumption habits of British households and how we really use the appliances and gadgets we have all come to be so heavily dependent upon.

Call it laziness, a lack of education in energy efficiency or a combination of both, but a shocking number of households don’t seem able to get into the habit of turning off energy sapping gadgets and appliances, such as computers and televisions. While it’s probably not so surprising that people leave their appliances on standby, the amount of money it ends up costing the nation is simply shocking. £1.3 billion annually is a horrific figure.

Providing heat and power to UK homes is responsible for more than a quarter of the country’s carbon emissions. As reported in The Telegraph, the electricity usage of 250 homes was closely monitored and the research turned up the following findings:

  • Households spend between £50-86 on appliances in a standby state, which is equivalent to 9% to 16% of the average electricity bill.
  • It seems we are a nation of couch potatoes. Yes, we love our TV. Televisions are on for more than 6 hours a day. Previous estimations had the figure at 5 hours on average. That translates to the entire country being glued to the box for 10 billion more hours a year than originally estimated – adding £205 million to electricity bills.
  • Homeowners who live on their own are using as much if not more electricity to run cooking and washing appliances as an average family.
  • Homes with dishwashers use on average almost double the amount of electricity using them compared to a washing machine.
  • It costs an average home £35 a year to power a computer, while households spend £68 powering electrical gadgets like televisions, DVD players and radios. Factor in a ‘home cinema system’ and it could cost more than £300 a year to run.

Commenting on the research, Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust said:

“It’s crucial that households across the nation can make informed decisions by having the right advice to help them reduce their energy usage and fuel bills. This research shows that there’s still more work to be done with consumer advice, product innovation and take-up of energy efficiency labelling.”

The Energy Saving Trust operates a recommended labelling scheme to help consumers find the most energy efficient appliances.

For more help and advice read our top energy saving tips or visit the Energy Saving Trust.