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Gadget use blamed for soaring electricity bills

TVs and PCs guzzling power, says report

Flat screen TV picture quality

Flat screen TVs may not have the best picture quality

Demand for electronic devices is continuing to accelerate according to experts, and will soon account for almost half the electricity used by a typical UK household.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) predicts that the use of gadgets including plasma TVs, laptops, PCs and mobile phones – which currently makes up 20% of a typical household’s electricity consumption – could increase to account for around 45% by 2020.

According to the EST, this could lead to a jump in average electricity bills from just under £140 per year to around £237, based on today’s electricity prices.

Demand for technology

The UK’s appetite for new technology reflects a worldwide trend. A study conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that energy use by new electronic devices will triple globally by 2030.

According to the IEA, there are almost 2 billion TV sets worldwide, over half the global population subscribe to a mobile phone service and personal computer ownership will hit a billion within the next seven months.

Energy efficiency needs to improve

The IEA’s executive director, Nobuo Tanaka, said that despite anticipated improvements in the efficiency of electronic devices, these savings ‘are likely to be overshadowed by the rising demand for technology’.

The IEA report indicates, however, that the opportunity for reducing electricity consumption is ‘considerable’.

Mr Tanaka said that governments needed to step in to ensure that people made the most of every energy efficiency opportunity, and recommended a joined-up approach between hardware and software manufacturers that placed more emphasis on an electrical item’s energy efficiency.

Energy efficient TVs

TV manufacturers in particular have made some progress in producing televisions with lower energy consumption, however – and even more energy efficient models are expected in the future.

According to Which? technology expert Mike Briggs: ‘If you’re after a new energy efficient TV look for models with ambient light sensors – this clever technology dims the backlight of the TV according to the ambient light in the room. The best sensors can slash power consumption in half. And keep an eye out for new LED models – early indications are that they use far less power than regular LCD and especially plasma TVs.’

Cut your electricity costs

You can do your bit – and save money by cutting your electricity bills – by taking simple energy saving steps when using gadgets or electrical appliances. Follow our energy saving tips.

  • Don’t leave electrical items on standby – always switch off at the mains
  • Remember to remove chargers from plug sockets when not in use
  • Choose to buy energy saving appliances
  • Turn off TVs and other appliances when you’re not using them

We’ve got more tips, advice and information in our guide on how to use less electricity.

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