'Vampire' devices are adding £75 a year to average electricity bill in Milton Keynes, say British Gas experts

New data has revealed people waste £16 per cent of their electricity bills on appliances left on standby.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 6:00 am

Research by British Gas shows more than two in five (42 per cent) of households admit to only occasionally switching off their household appliances when not in use.

With the average annual electricity bill currently at £474.44, people save £75 per year by simply flicking a switch, says the energy company.

They found the biggest 'vampire' is the television, which 61 per cent of people admitted to leaving on standby. for up to 19 hours a day. Switching it off would save £12.49 a year.

British Gas has come up with some top energy saving tips

The same amount of people also said they left their microwave on standby for up to 23 hours out of 24, while 93 per cent admitted to leaving their internet router switched on more than 18 hours a day. Flicking a switch on both of these would save £8.42 and £9.61 a year respectively.

A British Gas spokesman said: "When you turn off many electrical devices, they go into standby mode and continue to draw power – power that can account for as much as 9 to16 per cent of your electricity bill. These are known as vampire devices.

"Following the government announcement just last week that stricter rules are set to ensure manufacturers make appliances such as TVs and washing machines more energy efficient, the new research shows that simply switching appliances off when not in use could also be a short-term fix to reduce the electricity they use over their lifetimes."

Other vampire items include showers, dishwashers tumble driers, computers, games consoles, smart speakers and smart home devices, printers, TV top boxes and satellite boxes and mobile device chargers.

The cost of leaving appliances and devices on stand by

The research has revealed that almost one in five (15 per cent) are unaware that many household appliances actually use up electricity whilst not in use as over two in five (42 per cent) admit to only occasionally switching these appliances off. Almost one in three (29 per cent) said they wish they’d known appliances were costing them money whilst on standby.

Unsurprisingly, almost seven in 10 people (68 per cent) said they would switch off these appliances now they know they could save the pennies. Interestingly, over three in four (77 per cent) of those aged 65 and over said they would switch off appliances to save money on bills, compared to just over half (54%) of 18-24-year olds who found the idea less appealing.

However, almost one in five (17 per cent) said that they will continue to leave appliances on standby when inactive despite the fact it could save them money. Two in five (42 per cent) said this was because the effort of switching them off isn’t worth the cost saving and one in five (21 per cent) said they wouldn’t because they just don’t care.

Over three in four (77 per cent ) of those aged 65 and over told British Gas they would switch off appliances to save money on bills, compared to only 54 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds, who found the idea less appealing.

Almost nine in 10 (88 per cent) people use their microwave for less than two hours a day and yet more than six in 10 (61 per cent) said they never switch it off. Only one quarter (24 per cent) said they switch off their games console when not in use and again, just one quarter (25 per cent) switch off the coffee machine when it’s not brewing, meaning three in four have it plugged in sapping energy 24/7.

Energy expert Marc Robson at British Gas said: “While colder weather and more time at home during this third national lockdown means a rise in bills is inevitable, there are some things we can do to reduce our energy usage at home which will really help the bank balance and the environment.

“Almost a third of total heating costs in the home are wasted through the roof and the walls and with vampire appliances, this figure is almost half of our electricity bills on wasted energy. Just switching some of these off can really help save straight away and those with a smart meter will be able to see the impact of this in real time. Turn it down or turn it off is a great motto for fighting the vampires.

Marc has come up with five top tips to reduce energy bills. These are:

1. At night, or when not in use, try switching off devices at the mains rather than switching to standby. Even better, next time you buy a new product, select one that is listed as having low standby power usage.

2. Add all electronics (computer, gaming console, Sky box, TV) to an extension lead and switch that off at night, this saves you the effort of turning them all off individually.

3. Turn lights off when you leave a room. Energy efficient lightbulbs will help with even further savings (you could save up to £40 a year).

4. Use a smart thermostat to help keep your room temperature as low as possible for as long as possible to avoid using the heating when you might not need it (save up to £75 for smart thermostat and £60 by reducing temperature by 1 degree).

5. Timing is everything; don’t leave chargers plugged into your devices once it’s fully charged, don’t fill the kettle if you’re only making one cup of tea and wait until the dishwasher and washing machine are full before putting them on.