Hidden Energy Costs In Your Home | Climastar UK

Hidden energy costs – The biggest electricity consumption appliances in your home.

With many homes now going all-electric, and smart meters keeping an eye on our energy usage, we’re aware now more than ever of our energy consumption. That said, we still find ourselves asking “what’s used that much power?”.

In this article, we look at the most energy-guzzling appliances in the home, and ways to combat unnecessary electric use by leaving things on standby, often called Vampire Power”.

Vampire power also has other names, such as “phantom power”, “ghost power”, “standby power” and “phantom load”.

During this article, we will also look at some appliances’ electricity consumption when in standard use.

 

Beyond the top 10

 

Before we get to the top 10 electricity-consuming appliances, we’ll look at a few runners up.

If you want to skip these and go straight to the top 10 power guzzlers: click here.

Of course, if you’re busy and want to just skip to the TLDR summary click here

 

14: Phone & tablet chargers

 

These often overlooked little gremlins are the smallest on our list of offenders. “But I only use it overnight, and it’s only using USB” we say. Granted – most phone chargers will use a maximum of 6 watts when charging per hour. At an average of 8 hours “on charge” while sleeping that’s 48 watts.

 

Let’s factor in the time the charger is still plugged in and not charging your phone – believe it or not, this still uses power (up to half a watt per hour). Let’s add that to the remaining 16 hours a day when our phones aren’t on charge. That’s another 8 watts, giving us a total of 56 watts per day.

 

It doesn’t stop there with mobile phones. Most houses now have at least 1 tablet device, be that an iPad, android or other. Recent statistics from Statista reveal each household has at least 1 tablet device (see: Average number of connected devices in UK households 2020 | Statista)

Let’s put that into perspective with a 4 person family (because everyone’s got a mobile phone these days).

 

That’s 4 phones + 1 tablet x 56 watts. (Or a total of 280 watts per day.).

 

At the present day average rate of electricity (£0.35 per kWh) that’s £0.10 per day for an average UK household.

 

Alright, it’s not going to make a massive difference to our energy bills, or break the bank. That said, there are things we can do to cut down this energy consumption such as:

 

  • Unplug or switch the socket off when not using phone/tablet chargers.
  • You don’t ALWAYS have to have a full charge. Many mobile devices now have better battery lives, and in a lot of circumstances have power saving or low-power modes. You may be able to get away with giving your mobile device a charge every two days.
  • Take advantage of solar charging – there are many portable power banks on the market now that use solar-powered batteries. You’re no longer dependent on the grid and can charge wherever you need to. Sure there’s the initial outlay, but it’s a one off purchase and these devices can be purchased for as little as £10.

 

 

13: The Kettle

 

Unlucky for some?  Spooky associations with the number 13 aside, we make no apologies at this point for outlining that we’re in the UK, and a good majority of us can’t function without a cuppa.

 

This article from the Evening Standard tells us that the average amount of times a kettle is boiled during a 1 day period in the UK is 4 times!

 

On average (according to the data provided by energy saving trust) it takes approximately 45 seconds to boil a 3kW kettle with 1 cup’s worth of water (Cost around £0.01 per cup).

 

With the “4 a day” rule that’s nearly £0.05 in brews alone per day (over £1.20 per month!)

 

That said, there are things we can do to get savvy around bringing down the cost of the staple British cuppa:

 

  • Get a flask. Any leftover hot water from your recent boil can go in there and stay hot for hours afterward. If you need a top-up on your tea/coffee levels you will have instant on demand hot water without the need for re-boiling.
  • With regular descaling of your kettle and only boiling the amount of water you need, you can bring down the energy consumption also, with your kettle not having to work so hard.
  • Climastar UK offers thermal energy storage for energy-efficient water heating – click here to find out more.

 

12: Printer

 

Although less used now in the home than in previous years – these (some not so little) tinkers can find themselves guzzling power in moderate amounts. An inkjet printer can use between 10 and 50 watts per hour, and 3-5 watts on standby – and laser printers approx. 8 – 10 times more when printing.

 

For small businesses and other workplaces, these costs can soon creep up.

 

Recommendations:  

 

  • Only switch on your printer when needed. Most modern devices have the capability to switch off / on when instructed to print, or have standby and power saving modes that you can make use of.

 

11: TV

 

Often the centre of attention and general entertainment in the home, the TV is without a doubt something very few of us can live without.

 

This article by from Jackery.com is highly informative and gives us some perspective of power consumption of the TV. We borrowed some of the data from their handy table that we will use as a point of focus for our presentation here.

 

Statista also tells us that the average TV size in the UK is 40 – 42 inches. We’ll be generous and go for the 40 inch in this case for our example, with OLED as the standard.

 

The BBC has kindly informed us that the average time spent using a TV per person is nearly 1/3 of waking hours (that’s about 5 hours). The rest of the time we can assume a TV will be on standby (which gives us approximately 5% of the power usage when in use).

 

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A bit of a sight for square eyes. When you look at the cost of that spread out over a year (£0.31 x 365 days) That’s over £110. Granted that may not be a lot for the year – but we can see how it soon adds up.

 

The Top 10 electric consumers.

 

If you’re still with us, you’ve made it to the top 10. So what could be next? You may have determined already that the sneakiest appliances that are adding to the hidden cost of your electricity bill are more conveniences than needs. Yet in this modern age of convenience, can we afford to do without any of them?

 

10: The Microwave Oven.

 

Or “microwave” for short. We’ve heard it given all kinds of names over the years: The “ping-o-tron”, the “micro”, the “nukeriser” or in Wales, the “popty ping”. The microwave oven is a little different to other small appliances in the kitchen as its size means it stays in situ, and often left on at the wall.

 

According to chronicle live, a microwave oven costs over £27 a year when just left on standby. Averaged out that’s £2.25 a month.

 

This can be alleviated by switching the device off at the wall when not in use.

 

9. The Tumble Dryer

 

Come in number nine! We often have little other option during the colder (and wetter) months than to use a tumble dryer for our laundry. There’s the pressure of keeping up with the demand for clean clothing for various things – school uniforms, work clothes, sportswear etc, and drying things ambiently sometimes isn’t practical.

 

Drying laundry indoors runs an increased risk of damp and mould growth without correct ventilation, especially in cooler temperatures. For things like towels, air drying leaves them flat and sometimes a little rugged. And if requiring longer periods to dry they can end up smelling somewhat musty. Ugh.

 

When in use, the tumble dryer is a heavy power guzzler because this uses both heat and a large motor to turn the drum.

 

This article by greenmatch advises that tumble dryers can use as much as £5.95 a year on standby. That’s at least another £0.49 a month we are losing to Vampire Power. 

 

If your tumble dryer has a dial that can be positioned to “off”, this is more beneficial than leaving it at your favourite setting as the unit won’t be drawing any further power. If in doubt though, switch off at the wall when not needed.

 

8. Washing machine

 

Or “the washer” as it’s more commonly known. Almost every house has one, and is often a daily user of power in the common household. Much like the tumble dryer it can be quite power hungry, due to having to heat water, use a motor to spin the drum (often at high speeds), and there’s also a pump for the incoming and outgoing water.

 

Much like many modern conveniences, the washing machine has become a necessity.

 

Greenmatch data estimates that it costs approx. £6.45 per year to leave a washing machine on standby alone.

 

Head in a spin? Here are some reducing energy consumption tips:

 

  • Let’s not overlook the obvious – switch off at the plug when not in use.
  • When in use where possible prioritise a cool wash to cut down on power use. Cool washes have a shorter cycle time, and also don’t have to use power to heat the water. There’s also less chance of shrinkage, colour loss etc.

 

7. The Dishwasher

 

Does what it says on the box. That said despite the convenience you can guarantee in most households the “who is doing the dishes” debate will be replaced by “who is loading/unloading the dishwasher”. Some things never change.

 

Can we cope without it? In all honesty, most of us don’t want to. Legend has it however, that despite disputes, the dishwasher on average uses less water and energy than washing by hand, and is often considered a more hygienic alternative for cleaning the dishes.

 

The dishwasher is more of a culprit of vampire power than the washing machine, giving us approx. £7.44 a year in standby mode.

 

Reducing costs for the dishwasher.

 

  • Switch off when not in use.
  • Use any “eco” settings your dishwasher may have. If for the most part you’re getting the dishwasher to wash plates, cups, cutlery etc this will suffice.
  • With dishwasher tablets you generally get what you pay for. Make sure your salt and rinse aid are topped up: they help a lot in getting those dishes cleaner.

 

6. Smart devices

 

The likes of Alexa and Google Home have been in many homes for a few years now. These devices are always on (and some would say always listening). However, the convenience of having Alexa do your bidding by switching on the lights and your heating by voice comes at a cost;  roughly the same as the dishwasher at £7.44 per year.

 

The Harmony range by Climastar has the functionality to work with smart devices and has other smart control features too, via pairing with the Harmony app. This gives our efficient electric radiators an extra dimension in future proofing your heating.

 

We found this article by the-ambient.com quite useful in giving us an idea about smart devices and their power use.

 

Ask your Google home or Alexa directly how you can save energy.

 

5 & 4. Laptops & Desktops

 

The more modern replacement for a standalone PC, the laptop has become increasingly more commonplace in the home. With working from home or hybrid working, even the work laptop has now taken up residence in the home.

 

What we see however, is their use is nearly always on external power.

 

£10.41 per year is the average cost of leaving your laptop plugged in while in use, and while on charge.

 

Solutions:

 

  • Utilise your battery more. This article by CNET outlines the average battery life for laptop devices in 2023. We see the minimum time that a laptop can be run without charge is at least 10 hours. That’s easily a working day – and you can be more mobile if you want to, and not necessarily tied to your home office.

 

Desktops are less frequent in the home and tend to be more commonplace in offices and the workplace. Understandably, they use more power – in some cases as much as 2Kw when using their full power capacity (although this tends to be more associated with high end graphics and data mining).

 

 Desktops come in at even more expensive for leaving on standby – at £13.39 per year.

 

3: Modems and routers.

 

That small innocent looking box in the corner may not be so innocent. The general hub for most entertainment needs these days is our internet connection, which tends to be provided by our broadband router.

 

Can we live without one in 2023? Doubtful. Nearly everything is internet based now, from online banking to TV programmes.

 

These devices however are rarely if ever off or on standby. The cost of these is around £19 per year for the privilege.

 

2. Games consoles

 

There has been a rise in the use of game consoles in recent years. In previous decades these were primarily for a younger audience (children, teens, young adults). As time has passed, game consoles are now a source of entertainment for all ages.

 

The question of how long they’re in use or left on standby may be a source of debate from home to home. On average we can see a yearly cost for leaving these on standby of £27.52. That’s without the charging of controllers, and taking into account multiple game consoles under one roof.

 

1. Refrigerators

 

This is one we definitely can’t do without – as we want to get the best we can from our foodstuffs, especially during this time of economic uncertainty.  

 

The fridge is one of those devices that spends most of its life on standby, and only draws power when needed to carry on cooling. Often combined also with freezer units, these devices can draw a lot of power depending on their size.

 

With many homes using a larger American-style affair, the power consumption of these is on the increase. The fridge contributes to a whopping £56.89 a year on average, on standby.

 

Keep your cool, there are things you can do:

 

  • Use a temperature that finds the balance between keeping things cool, and the best shelf life for your foodstuffs. Which recommends anything up to 5C as ideal – the colder you go, the more power will be used.
  • With freezers, a fuller freezer stays colder for longer and uses less power on average than a freezer that is less full. Frozen foods act as an ice block that helps give it longevity.

 

TLDR – the long and short of it.

 

Phone chargers, although being the least of worry we can economise on.

The worst offender is the fridge on standby, costing nearly £5 a month.

 

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Key takeaways

 

The modern age we’ve found ourselves in is abundant with opportunities to make our lives easier and with conveniences – many of which we can now no longer really live without.

 

Looking at the chart above it is possible to make savings on your energy consumption here and there. £350 a year could contribute towards a holiday, towards festivities such as Xmas, some funds to upgrade your central heating, or even be put into savings.

 

Some good news: Energy prices are set to drop from July 2023! https://www.bbc.com/news/business-65695752

 

Best practises for saving energy, and to battle the cost of living crisis:

 

  • Switch it off, preferably at the wall where possible
  • Use economy settings on appliances where possible.
  • Only charging devices when needed can help make savings.
  • Use “free” power options where possible such as solar.

 

Climastar UK primarily specialise in electric heating and efficient electric water systems, however during our free home survey we take into account your power consumption, and look at going all-electric to future proof your heating with the best electric heating systems for homes. 

 

We will give the best advice we can on utilising an all-electric approach, and helping to save on your electricity consumption for the future with a quote for our best electric heating or radiators to do the job.

 

One of the many topics of conversation that often crops up here is a Climastar price list. We get a lot of interest in providing a ball park figure at the enquiry stage – however, we operate on a survey basis to provide a quote in person, based on your needs and requirements.

 

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