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Ways people waste energy – and how to stop

Ways people waste energy – and how to stop

Category: Gas and electricity

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

We all know that we should be doing our bit to save energy, both for the environment and our own wallets. However, that can sometimes be easier said than done, with new research highlighting the common ways we waste energy – and money – in the home.

Energy wastage

The research, from OVO energy, found that 53% of respondents feel they don't do enough to save energy at home, despite 85% trying to make a conscious effort and six in 10 worrying about the impact of their energy consumption on the environment. This suggests that, even though many of us have good intentions, there's still more we could be doing to cut down our energy use.

This issue is further highlighted by the fact that many people are simply unaware of how much their energy usage is costing both them and the environment, with 46% admitting that they don't know which appliances cost the most to run. Unfortunately, it's the devices that we use most often that cost us the most, with phones, laptops and tablets being the biggest cause of energy waste in the home.

The biggest energy-wasting habit is leaving devices plugged in overnight, something that over 40% of respondents admitted to doing. A further 31% said they leave their device plugged in even after it's fully charged, with younger respondents being the biggest culprits (55% of 18-24 year olds leave their device charging for longer than it needs to, compared with 29% of over-55s).

Another major energy-waster is leaving the TV on standby, with more than a third admitting they don't turn it off fully when going to bed or leaving the house. And what about water wastage? Almost 30% of respondents leave the tap running while they're brushing their teeth, and equally, that relaxing bath at the end of the day could cost you more than you realise.

Leaving radiators on in an empty room is another instant energy-waster – it's something that one in five respondents admit to doing – and almost 18% of people will leave the light on once they've left the room. A further 17% boil a full kettle even if they're only making a single cup of tea or coffee, and over the year, that kind of energy wastage can easily add up.

Be energy savvy

Last week we let you in on ways you can dodge hefty heating bills this winter, and it needn't take much to put those tips into practice. However, there are other things you can do to save money on your energy at all times of the year, and all it could take is a bit of readjustment so you get into new habits.

For example, don't keep the tap running when you're brushing your teeth or doing the washing up, and only fill the kettle with the amount of water you actually need. Similarly, try spending less time in the shower each morning – even a minute or two less could make a surprising amount of difference – and make sure you have a full load when using your washing machine and dishwasher.

Taking control of your heating can also make a huge amount of difference. Not only should you put your heating system on a timer so it only comes on when you need it, but think about the rooms that actually need heating – if you've got a spare room that's rarely used, turn the radiator off for most of the time, only putting it on when you need a quick blast to keep everything from going cold and damp. You may also want to grab a jumper rather than reaching for the thermostat – even turning your heating down one degree could save £85 per year, according to Energy UK.

Then there are the age-old tips of turning your TV set and other appliances completely off rather than leaving them on standby, and always switching lights off once you've left the room. These days, this applies to other tech, too: only charge your devices for as long as they need, and try not to keep them plugged in overnight.

These simple, common sense tips could help you save a small fortune, but if you're looking for an even bigger saving, make sure to compare gas and electricity tariffs to see if you could cut your outgoings even more.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.