Standby power costs Britons up to £1.3 bn annually, study finds


Philip Sellwood,
Chief Executive,
Energy Saving Trust
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — June 27, 2012 – Computers, televisions and other electrical products plugged in but not in use or left on standby cost the U.K. up to £1.3 billion in electricity bills every year, according to a new study from the Energy Saving Trust and the Departments of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

This standby consumption is much higher than previously thought, and ranges from 9 to 16% of total consumption costing consumers between £50 and £86 per year.

The study, Powering the nation – household electricity-using habits revealed, was aimed to establish the range and quantity of appliances and their uses in households across the nation. It involved monitoring of over 250 representative households – 26 for a full year and the remainder for a month each on a rolling basis.

Among the findings were that the average household consumption was 3,638 kWh/yr – approximately 10% more than the official figure of 3,300 kWh/yr – and the average per capita consumption was 2,012 kWh/yr – significantly above the estimated national average of 1,375 kWh/yr.

Excluding electric heating, cold appliances were the largest contributor to consumption at 16.2%, followed by lighting (15.4%), consumer electronics (excluding ICT) (14.4%), cooking (13.8%) and wet appliances (13.6%)

Hidden within these figures is a nation that loves to keep its clothes clean, according to the report. On average households do an average 5.5 washes a week. But much more energy is consumed on keeping crockery, glasses and cutlery clean, with households with dishwashers using on average nearly double the amount of electricity on this appliance than on their washing machines.

The U.K. is also a nation of TV watchers, watching an average 6 hours per day. This corresponds to a total 10 billion hours more than previously thought over a year, at an extra cost of £205 million on electricity bills.

Another notable finding pertained to single person households, with the monitored one person households using as much, and sometimes more, energy as typical families on particular appliances. In particular, for cooking and laundry the power demand of lone dwellers matched or exceeded those of average family units.

“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,” commented Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust. “This research shows that there’s still more work to be done with consumer advice, product innovation and take up of energy efficiency labelling.”

According to the report, with this data now in hand, the next stage of the process is to develop strategies and programs that inform, educate and inspire people to take up the challenge of becoming “energy smart” in their daily lives.