Skip to main content

UK families spend hundreds on energy when nobody’s home

How much are your appliances costing you when you’re not home?

energy billFamilies across the UK are needlessly driving up their energy bills by spending hundreds of pounds a year on electricity that they do not need, the latest research reveals.

A study carried out by All About Money shows that many people are leaving items switched on even if they have no intention of using them, and the result is that energy bills are rising at a rapid rate.

According to the data, a significant proportion of the £531 that the average family pays for electricity every year is used up by items that are constantly switched on.

Many homes included in the study were using 6p of electricity per hour, even when the entire family was asleep, with many unaware of just how much certain appliance cost to run.

Hidden cost

Whereas the average fridge-freezer costs 8p a day to run, a broadband router (which can be switched off when not in use) costs 3p and a fishtank heater costs in the region of 24p a day. These three appliances alone add £7.44 a month to energy bills, or £87.60 a year.

Many people were found to be leaving other items plugged in unnecessarily. The likes of phone charges, laptops charges, cordless tools and radios are all being left on, in some cases all day long, even when nobody is there to use them.

All About Money’s Ian Williams said it is clear that people’s homes are getting “increasingly cluttered” with electrical items which are designed to be left on all the time.

“Alongside the obvious fridge and freezer, there’s broadband equipment, clocks, radios and other gadgets. Whilst many of these draw little power, taken together it adds up. On top of this, homes often have a profusion of chargers for smartphones, cordless tools, laptops and tablets which are often left running for hours,” he added.

Forgotten items

When conducting the study, the organisation used an energy meter in a number of different households to assess base use, which is defined as all lights and appliances in the house being switched off. It found that the lowest base level usage found was 1p per hour, or £88 a year, with the highest being just over 6p an hour, or £526 a year.

Mr Williams said the cost of “forgotten items” such as burglar alarms, clocks and fishtanks adds up significantly over time and can often equate to hundreds of pounds a year.

“It’s a curse of Western society that many of us don’t realise the more things we plug in; the more it’s likely to cost over time – even when we’re not actually using some of those items,” he concluded.