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UK households waste nearly £1 billion by leaving appliances on standby*

21 November 2016

With four million UK households living in fuel poverty, new research from Gocompare.com Energy has found that items left on standby waste enough energy to heat 5,000 homes per year.

  • UK standby energy waste could heat over 5,000 homes for a year**
  • There are over four million households in fuel poverty
  • Two fifths (42%) of households in Northern Ireland are in fuel poverty
  • Over a third (35%) of households in Scotland are fuel poor
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of households in Wales are in fuel poverty
  • UK standby energy waste could heat all of the fuel poor homes on the Isles of Scilly for 23 years***

With four million UK households living in fuel poverty, new research from Gocompare.com Energy has found that items left on standby waste enough energy to heat 5,000 homes per year.

The figures come as Gocompare.com research also reveals that 77% of homeowners will be forced to ration their energy usage this winter.****

Number of UK households that could be heated from wasted energy


Energy waste (kWh)*****

Number of households heated**













Northern Ireland



Fuel poverty is a major issue for the UK with National Energy Action (NEA) estimating that   just over one in 10 (10.6%) households in England alone are fuel poor.

Additionally, more than a third (35%) of Scottish households, nearly a quarter (23%) of Welsh households and two in five (42%)  Northern Irish homes are also defined as fuel poor.

Standby energy waste to heat fuel poor households

UK areas with highest levels of fuel poverty

% of fuel poor homes that could be heated by standby energy

Number of years fuel poor homes could be heated by standby energy

Orkney Islands









Isles of Scilly



The research shows that standby energy wasted by households each year could be enough to heat some of the UK’s most fuel poor households for several years.

For instance, the amount of standby energy wasted per year by the UK could heat all fuel poor homes on the Isles of Scilly for just under 24 years. Likewise, the energy wasted by the nation could heat over 80% of affected homes in the UK’s most fuel poor area, the Orkney Islands, for a year.

Ben Wilson, spokesperson for Gocompare.com Energy, commented: “For many people, energy bills represent a significant proportion of their household expenditure and turning appliances off instead of leaving them on standby is a quick way to save energy and money.

“Most appliances come with a standby function that allows them to be turned on quickly, but for this convenience they also continue to use energy. More recent additions to households, such as broadband routers, also require electricity whilst not in use, adding to your overall energy consumption. The increased number of appliances in the home can see electricity consumption gradually creep up over the year.

“We’re entering the peak period for energy usage and consequently higher fuel bills.But instead of going without - now is the perfect time to review your energy consumption and consider your energy options.

“Another easy step to save money on your energy bill is to shop around and switch supplier. Finding a new energy supplier is easy to do and just takes few minutes online. On average people who switch energy supplier through Gocompare.com can save as much as £366******, so it’s well worth taking a few minutes to see if you could save.

For more information, see Gocompare.com’s guide on how to save money on you gas and electricity bills

infographic on the UK’s standby energy waste

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

*According to the Energy Saving Trust, household waste on average £30 a year by leaving appliances on standby. Office of National Statistics estimates that there were 26,993,600 households in the UK in 2015. If each household wasted £30 on standby electricity the bill would be £809,805,000.

**According to House Planning Help, the equation to heat a standard building is 100 – 300 kWh/sq.m/year. The average house size for the UK is 76m.sq (Shrink that footprint). Estimated amount of energy needed to heat a home - 150kWh * 76 sq.m = 11,400kWh per year. £809,805,000 energy = 58,259,352.52 (kWh) (Cost of energy / unit price of energy (13.9p)) 58,259,352.52/ 11,400= 5,110

*** Number of houses heated by standby waste / number of fuel poor households in the Isle of Scilly (5,110 / 214). Data from DECC Sub-regional Fuel Poverty, England 2005-2014, Scottish House Condition Survey 2012-2014,The production of estimated levels of fuel poverty in Wales, Fuel Poverty in Northern Ireland 2009

****On 30 September 2016, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 1,283 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists who are homeowners.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

*****Total households multiplied average money wasted a year (£30) divided by average electricity unit price 2015 (13.9p)

******At least 51% of customers who received a price for switching energy supplier for both gas and electricity with Gocompare.com saved £366 or more (1st April - 30th June 2016).