Press release:

Households waste £227 million a year leaving appliances on standby

  • Seven in ten (76%) households leave electrical items on standby, with over a third (38%) admitting they do all the time[1]
  • Homes across the country are losing out on £227 million a year by not switching appliances off at the mains[2]
  • Televisions, phone chargers and set top boxes are the devices most commonly left on standby[3]
  • With nine out of 10 people in possession of a mobile, collective phone charger standby costs have hit £28.9 million over the course of a year[4], while televisions have racked up £23.8 million[5]
  • While four in five (81%) consumers know that turning items off at the mains means they’re not using energy[6], a quarter (24%) either forget or can’t be bothered to do so[7]
  • One in six Brits (14%) don’t turn off all the lights when they go out[8].

Households across the country are losing out on £227 million a year by leaving electrical appliances on standby according to new research from, the price comparison and switching service[2]. Seven out of ten (76%) homes leave items on standby with almost four in ten (38%) admitting they never completely switch them off[1].

The average household leaves electrical items on standby for a combined total of 51 hours a day[9]. Televisions, phone chargers and digital television boxes are the three top items most likely to be left on standby, accumulating a collective £145.2 million alone[10] across the country.

While four in five (81%) are aware that leaving electronics on standby will impact their energy bill, 14% are unaware that appliances still use energy when left on standby, and 7% mistakenly think they only use energy when actively in use[6]. Four in ten consumers (41%) say they do not see the point of doing so if they will use them again, one in ten (11%) can’t be bothered to switch devices off, and 13% simply forget[7].

Additionally, people in over three million homes[8] keep the lights on even when they’ve left the house – while a third (38%) admit to leaving televisions on standby[8]. Only one in ten (11%) turn off appliances when leaving the house for the day, with 64% leaving some devices on standby even when on holiday[11].

Jules Greenidge, energy expert at, says: “Although the average cost of leaving appliances on standby might not seem like a lot, these costs can quickly add up to a more substantial sum.

“With families struggling with the rising cost of living, simply remembering to turn off appliances at the mains when you’ve finished using them will avoid unnecessary standby expenses. Consumers can also reduce spending by switching to the cheapest tariff for their needs. So, by switching off and switching tariff, consumers will see instant savings.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

Research carried out online with the Consumer Opinion Panel in July 2014 amongst a sample of 1,905 GB adults.

  1. When asked ‘Do you ever leave electrical items on standby or turned on at the mains?’ 37.9% of respondents answered ‘I always do’, 37.8% of respondents answering ‘I occasionally do’ – these figures added up equal 75.7% who leave items on standby. 17.2% answered ‘I rarely do’ and just 7.1% said ‘I never do’.
  2. Total number of households in the UK is 26.4 million. 75.7% (number who regularly leave items on standby) of 26.4 million is 19,984,800. Total average running cost of appliances on standby per year is £11.36. This number multiplied by the number of households in the UK who leave appliances on standby (19,984,800) is £226,942,729.34.
  3.  ‘Thinking about the following electrical items – how many hours a day do you leave them on/turned on at the mains/on standby/charging? 98% of respondents answered ‘TV between under 1 hour and 18 – 24 hours’ with 97.8% of respondents answering ‘phone charger between under 1 hour and 18-24 hours and 85.8% of respondents answering ’digital television box between under 1 hour and 18 – 24 hours’
  4. Average cost of a phone on standby each year is £0.62. There are 50.1million UK adults (ONS) and Ofcom’s figures suggest that 93% of UK adults have a mobile phone – 93% of 50.1million is 46,593,000. 46,593,000 x £0.62 = £28,887,660 worth of standby charges from phones each year.
  5. 96% of households have a television according to TV licensing. 26.4 million households in the UK in 2013 according to ONS (2014 figures not yet available). Therefore 25,344,000 households have a television in the UK. Cost of leaving a TV on standby over the course of a year is £0.94. 25,344,000 x £0.94 = £23,823,360.
  6. When asked ‘Which of the following do you believe are true?’ 81.0% said ‘The only way for an electrical item not to use any electricity is to turn it off at the mains’, and 12% said ‘Electrical items do not use energy if they are turned off/on standby, but still turned on at the plug’. 7.4% said ‘Electrical items only use energy when they are turned on and actively in use’. 1.7% said ‘Electrical items no not use electricity when on standby.’
  7. ‘Why do you leave electrical items on standby or turned on at the mains when not in use?’ 13.2% of respondents answered ‘because I forgot to turn them off’ with 11.2% of respondents answering ‘because I can’t be bothered to turn them off’. These percentages added together equal 24%. 40.9% said ‘Because I know I will be using the electrical item again soon so don’t see the point in turning it off’.
  8. ‘Thinking about the last time you left the house, which of the following did you do?’ 14% of respondents answered ‘I left the light/s on in one or more of the rooms’ with 37.6% of respondents answering ‘I left my TV on standby’. 14% of 26.4 million is 3,696,000 million households.
  9. Respondents were asked ‘Thinking about the following electrical items – how many hours a day do you leave them turned on at the mains/on standby/charging?’ – The table outlines how many hours a day/year electrical items are left on standby and how much it costs per year for them to be on standby. This total has then been multiplied by 365 to calculate the total cost of leaving electrical items on standby per year.


    Average hours left on standby per household per day

    Average running cost on standby per household per year

    Phone Charger

    5.6 hours a day



    11.7 hours a day


    Table lamp [eco-saving bulb]

    5.5 hours a day


    DVD player

    6.6 hours a day


    Set top box

    14 hours a day


    Games console

    3.2 hours a day



    4.5 hours a day



    51 hours a day



    Figures from multiple sources please contact uSwitch media team for full details

  11. As per caveat 4 and 5, the total standby cost of TVs each year is £23,823,360, and £28,887,660 for mobile phones. 85.9% of all UK households (22.7m) have a set top box. This figure multiplied by £4.07 (the annual standby cost of a set top box) is £92,508,992. This combined with the total cost across the country of TVs and phone chargers left on standby comes to £145,220,012.
  12. When asked ‘When do you turn electrical items off at the mains/ensure they are not on standby? 11.3% said ‘Whenever I am leaving the house (during the day but plan to return)’ and 35.2% said ‘Whenever I am going away/on holiday (for one night or more)’.

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