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Week three findings from the National Smart Meter Challenge: energy guzzlers bite the dust

The top five surprising energy guzzlers are:

  • Iron
  • Grill
  • Hair dryer
  • Toaster
  • Shower

We discovered that:

  • Households had a hairy surprise: The majority of households were shocked by the amount of energy the hair dryer uses (approximately 23-28 pence per hour) however those that use hair straighteners had a nice surprise when they found out this appliance only uses 2-4 pence per hour.
  • The three appliances that use less energy than people thought were:
    o TV
    o Blender
    o Phone charger
  • Turning stand-by off does make a difference over time: The majority of households discovered that turning all appliances off stand-by made a difference to daily energy use and cost, and that over time it all adds up. Marie from Urmstom told us: “Turning everything off would save me £262.80 a year! Unbelievable!”
  • Secret stand-bys: Some participants discovered there are appliances in their house they didn’t consider to be on standby but still guzzle the energy. A big offender was the microwave which is kept on standby to keep the clock illuminated.
  • More thought is going into big appliance purchases: One family said they’ve always chosen appliances based on their appearance and how they fit in with their household décor, but now they will also be prioritising the energy ratings when making purchasing decisions.
  • People were impressed by how the smart energy monitor helps them understand where they are using gas and electricity at home: Because they now have a way of working out how much energy is used by certain appliances, they feel empowered to know where they can make changes that will have an impact on their energy usage.

Monica Griffiths, British Gas Smart Energy Expert, gives her tips on how to keep energy use down in the home by using the Smart Energy Monitor: “This isn’t about stopping using your appliances all together, it’s about arming you with information to make choices about where you use your energy. For example, you may see that your hair dryer is one of the worst offenders for guzzling energy but rather than cut it out all together, could you let your hair dry naturally a bit more often? Being informed in this way can also help you see the difference that small changes make over time, like always turning your appliances off stand by. Reducing your energy use is a marathon, not a sprint!”

Key findings from the families this week:

“It was surprising from testing the various items that, for instance, the iron used more energy than the vacuum cleaner. It was also surprising how little energy that things such as the television and laptop use when they are on and being used…I would have thought they would have been higher than they were.” – Andy, Walsall

“I really enjoyed this week - one night, we left all the items on and then the following day, we turned everything off: the kettle, the oven, the microwave, the televisions… and over that 9 hour period we saved 10 pence. That doesn't sound a lot...but over 24 hours, and then over period of a year that saving is quite significant.”– Paul, Walsall

“My smart energy monitor helped me so much this week, it was such an eye opener seeing what uses the most energy in my home.” – Tracey, Leeds

You can follow the National Smart Meter Challenge with weekly updates and insights on our website here and read blogs from four of the families here. Or why not join in the conversation on twitter using #smartmeterchallenge.


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