Skip to content
Please donate

Switching off appliances could save Brits £1.7bn

Published on 16 October 2014 04:00 PM

New research reveals the number of appliances in homes is sending bills out of control and costing Brits billions of pounds.

Appliances left on at the wall, such as games consoles and TVs, are costing us £45-80 a year - a total of £1.7bn across the UK.

The findings were released ahead of Big Energy Saving Week - a joint campaign funded by DECC in collaboration with Energy Saving Trust and Citizens Advice Bureau. Other partners supporting the campaign include Age UK, Global Action Plan and ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England).

Running from Monday to Friday, 20-24 October, the campaign will help householders learn how to take control of their electricity and heating bills with free advice available throughout the week over the phone, online and at events across the UK.

Householders will be encouraged to take practical steps to cut their bills by checking they are on the best deal, switching tariff or supplier and taking up energy saving actions such as switching their appliances off standby mode.

'Nation on standby'

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of Energy Saving Trust, said: 'We are a nation on standby. Whatever your age, gender or the size of your household: our research has found that millions of us are unintentionally wasting electricity when we leave our gadgets on standby.

It's an easy mistake to make yet it costs us a fortune. And as we become more tech-savvy it's hardly surprising our home appliances don't come with an energy-cost warning label on them.'

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: 'Every day, Citizens Advice helps people who are struggling to meet the cost of their energy bills. 80,000 people a year come to us for help with fuel debts.

'With prices up a third since 2010, it's more important than ever that people know what they can do to keep their fuel bills down and what help is available. That's why we're running events up and down the country to help people make sure they are not paying a penny more than they have to.'

The findings from an Ipsos MORI survey of over 2,000 UK respondents show that 43% of people have at some point received an energy bill higher than they were expecting. 1 in 5 of us (19%) still own a fridge or freezer at least 15 years old.

These products are more likely to be inefficient and to have developed faults that owners might not be aware of. This could be causing them to consume more energy than necessary, for instance a freezer with a faulty thermostat could cost £45 a year more to run than it should.

Many of us in Britain are now gamers with 1 in 4 over 55s (24%) owning a console.

Around two fifths of respondents said they leave their games consoles on standby when not in use rather than turning them off, using up to £30 a year in electricity, or more if they have multiple consoles.

The ‘Great British Appliance Check'

The number of appliances, electrical goods and personal electronics we buy is rising. Follow these steps to make sure you're not using energy you don't need:

Standby Savers

Fortunately there are a number of products available to help cut down your standby electricity consumption, such as standby savers that allow you to easily turn all of your appliances off from standby without having to reach for the plug.

Cold appliances

Is your fridge-freezer 15 years or older? If it is, then the chances are that it could be using more electricity than required.

As fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers are switched on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it could be worth finding models that are more energy efficient and will save you money on electricity bills.

Tenants can ask their landlord to buy a newer model if the current one is faulty or not performing efficiently. If it's not possible to replace the model, then the following tips and advice can help save money on refrigeration:

  • Make sure the back of your fridge-freezer is ventilated and dust free - dusting should be done at least once a year to keep it running efficiently.
  • Make sure the fridge-freezer is out of direct sunlight from outside or other sources of heat from inside the home, such as your oven or boiler.
  • Make sure the door seal is not damaged.
  • Check that it is cycling on and off as it should - ideally you should only be able to hear your fridge or freezer running 30-40% of the time.
  • Don't keep the fridge-freezer doors open longer than necessary.


Over a quarter of electricity use (26%) now goes towards entertainment equipment, such as TVs and games consoles. In addition, there is greater public appetite for bigger TVs with over half (54%) of those buying TVs last year purchasing one 39 inches or over.

Making sure TVs and other entertainment equipment is switched off when not in use and not on standby will bring savings on the electricity bill.


Lighting is a vital aspect of any home, especially during the darker winter evenings. Lighting makes up 16% of household electricity consumption. By turning off the lights when they're not needed you could save around £7 a year. If households want to go further, replacing all the remaining old-fashioned bulbs with CFLs and all the halogens with LEDs could typically save around £45 a year.

For further information about saving energy in the home visit our Energy Efficiency page or the Energy Saving Trust website. You can call the Energy Saving Advice Service (England and Wales) on 0300 123 1234 or Home Energy Scotland (Scotland) on 0808 808 2282.

Householders in Northern Ireland may be able to benefit from the Warm Homes scheme - call 0800 988 0559 for further details.

Share this page

Last updated: Dec 05 2018

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top