Are you getting the cheapest electricity?

woman watching tv

woman watching tvIt seems curious that, at a time when families all over the country are trying every trick in the book to minimise their spending on essentials, so many of us are passing up the cheapest electricity available.

Imagine throwing away £86 at the start of the year and accepting this was just how much your household was going to chuck away needlessly in wasted electricity.

Well, according to the Energy Saving Trust, that's what we all might as well be doing, after its latest study found that Britain's habit of leaving things 'on standby' is costing us a staggering £1.3 million every year in totally unnecessary costs.

By leaving our computers, televisions and other household gadgets plugged in at the wall, and also in standby mode, we are missing out on crucial savings - and one of the most glaringly obvious ways to protect our money in these harsh economic times.

Authors of the study, which also involved the work of two government departments, are now desperate to highlight the financial gains available through getting into the habit of a few simple daily steps to stop your house from leaking money.

So what are we doing wrong?

The study monitored specifically the electricity use of 250 normal homes in Britain and discovered that the equivalent of 9% to 16% of the average electricity bill is spent on gadgets being powered in a "non-active" way.

Put in actual terms, this means that each family or household is spending somewhere in the region of between £50 and £86 without receiving any actual gain and they are certainly not capitalising on the cheapest electricity available to them.

Teamed with the fact that televisions are being watched more than previously estimated (over six hours per day on average rather than five) this means that we as a country are watching 10 billion hours more TV every year than it was first thought, totalling an unfathomable £205 million extra.

There are some really straightforward daily steps to help you reduce your electricity bill.

Other eye-watering stats include the fact that, despite costing roughly £80 a year to use both a washing machine and tumble dryer, homes with this facility use it for four fifths of their washes - overlooking the opportunity to hang clothes outside or use indoor airers for free.

It seems we're reluctant to get back to basics in the kitchen cleaning department, with households owning dishwashers spending roughly double on that than on their washing machine, and those preferring to use a bit of elbow grease reaping the rewards.

Elsewhere, running our computers is costing us roughly £35 a year (with desktops usually costing more) and a further £68 is spent on the power to fire up our hi-fis, DVD players, TVs and radios.

Making the switch

The chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust believes more needs to be done to highlight to people just how significant the savings can be for performing what are simple everyday tasks.

Philip Sellwood 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."

He also wants a clearer product labelling initiative to assist families in making the right choices on energy efficiency. Apparently the Government is liaising with Europe to ensure green energy stickers come complete with all appliances, providing additional information on energy usage.

Environment minister Lord Taylor said: "As this survey shows we are using a lot more energy than previously thought. Manufacturers need to develop more energy efficient electrical products and help consumers save money and the environment.

"We can all do simple things like switching off our televisions, computers and other home electronics and save up to £85 on electricity bills each year."