Uncovering household energy habits
A new study has examined the electricity usage of a representative sample of English owner-occupier homes to provide insights into how we use the electrical products that power our lives. The report reveals that peoples’ relationship with energy, and levels of usage, is higher than previously thought and consumers are still getting to grips with minimising their energy consumption around the home and that more work is required to help homeowners make the right choices.
The UK is watching 10 billion hours more TV than previously thought, adding £205m to electricity bills. Computers, televisions and other electrical products plugged in but not in use or left on standby cost the UK up to £1.3 billion in electricity bills every year. In addition, single-person households were found to be using as much, and sometimes more, energy on particular appliances as typical families.
Powering the Nation – household energy using habits uncovered was conducted by Defra, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and the Energy Saving Trust. It highlights the actual day-to-day use of electricity across the country and allows us to see what is actually happening in people’s homes.
The study had four main objectives:
- To identify and catalogue the range and quantity of electrically powered appliances, products and gadgets found in the typical home
- To understand their frequency, and patterns, of usage, in particular their impact on peak electricity demand
- To monitor total electricity consumption of the home as well as individually monitoring the majority of appliances in the household on a five minute basis
- To collect user habits data when using some types of electrically powered appliances
The study is the first of its kind in the UK which measures and monitors electricity in real time and in real life situations; breaking down what electrical items are being used, when, for how long and how much power they use. The report is based results from the Household Electricity Use field trial, which gathered data obtained from 251 monitoring systems in owner-occupied households. Until now, a study of this magnitude and complexity had not been considered possible due to a mix of technical challenges of monitoring usage.
Reducing household energy use
Ministers commented on how the findings of the study can help reduce household use through improved understanding and energy efficiency.
Environment Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach 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 bill each year.”
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:
“Using energy more wisely in our homes will not only cut carbon but will also help save money on bills. But first we need to really understand how we use this energy in order to become more energy wise. This report provides vital insights into what is happening on the ground, highlighting the need for more energy efficient household electrical appliances and indicating which appliances contribute most to electricity demand at peak times. This research will help us to understand and manage household energy demand.”
Improving appliance labelling
The government is working with the European Union to ensure that Green Energy Labels are displayed on all new electrical appliances displayed for sale, providing clear and easily recognisable information for consumers about the relative energy consumption and performance of domestic appliances.
Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, 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. We continue to support industry and consumers though our Energy Saving Trust Recommended labelling scheme which helps consumers spot the most energy efficient products in each category.”
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