Households wasting up to £86 a year leaving gadgets on standby

Official: Standby devices costing UK £1.3bn a year

These are just some of the headlines which followed the publication of Powering the Nation, our joint report on English electricity consumption with DECC and DEFRA yesterday. It’s pretty clear that the standby stat was the one catching at least the media’s attention – but that’s just a small part of the whole.

As blogged about yesterday, the main thrust is overall electricity consumption higher than expected, yes, standby consumption much higher than expected, and singles using as much power as families. But what of the finer detail? What appliances are the ones sucking hardest at the grid? Which rooms are we offending the most in?

Well, we like watching TV. Sure, we could’ve reached that conclusion without this report, but we really like watching TV. From previously assuming just less than five hours a day watched, our large sample seems to indicate the average household is getting in over six. Scaled up, this is an extra 10 billion hours nationwide. Some serious food for thought as we strive to increase the efficiency and market share of the ‘best in class’ products out there.

Speaking of food, our cold appliances – fridges and freezers – are by far the biggest energy-using appliance category in the home at 20.5 per cent of all home electricity use. Again, higher than previous estimates.

We’re very clean. Well, at least our clothes are. Although the finding that we do an average of 5.5 washes a week isn’t much more than assumed, but what’s disheartening is eight out of ten washes are dried electronically, rather than line-dried.

The report shows that electricity bills can be anything from a modest £347 to a whopping £859 – so it’s fair to say that within such a range there’s also a disparity in where those running costs come from, room-by-room. Depending on choice of gadgetry and TVs, living rooms can be the biggest electricity using area of the home – but in most cases it’s more likely to be the kitchen.  Beyond those two biggies, your studies, utility rooms, bedrooms etc. are more of a cumulative impact.

If it needs driving home just a little more that this study looked at absolutely every electricity-using thing in the home, then to name but a few of the more obscure items measured, we covered a fair few bread-makers (23.6 kWh/year), bottle-warmers (27.2), door bells (52) and paper-shredders (2.3), as well as a couple of massage beds (a hefty 215kWh/year).

Reptile and fish fans, be warned: the average aquarium is sucking out 278kWh/year; vivarium 56kWh/year. All this considered it will be a big relief to many that we only counted one air-conditioning unit.

All this is without touching on plenty of areas, like lighting for example. It’s all in there if you’re curious for masses more detail. But what it all comes down to is that while decarbonisation of the grid is where we should be aiming in terms of infrastructure, we need to take a long hard look in the mirror.

Energy awareness has increased massively in the last couple of decades, but it’s taking a while for our in-home habits to come into line with what we know: use less, less emissions, save more cash.

Finally, if you work for a company involved in the manufacture or sale of electrical products and all this has rather put your head in a spin, you could do worse than finding out more about our Energy Saving Trust Recommended scheme.