Are home gadgets ruining your carbon footprint?

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Energy saving at homeThere isn’t a homeowner in the country who hasn’t decked out their pad in the latest appliances in an effort to ‘keep up with the Joneses’.

A house without a huge plasma screen, Smeg fridge and double-range cooker just isn’t a home for the majority of 21st century buyers and buzz-terms such as ‘energy efficiency’ have been relegated to the recycling bin to make way for the pleasures of electricity-guzzling modern gadgets.

Whether you’re an energy saint or a sinner, there’s no denying that our present day penchant for all things electrical has caused us to leave a trail of carbon footprints the length of which could wrap around the globe several times.

Energy wasting with every day gadgets

The Energy Saving Trust gives home gadget fans a thorough rap on the wrist for wasting energy on TVs, laptops, tablet PCs and fridges in its latest research.

Making sure the toaster is switched off at the plug, lining your loft with insulation before it gets its makeover and switching off lighting when you move from room to room is the least homeowners can do to save the planet from the brink of extinction according to the Trust.

And if our love affair with electrical appliances isn’t reigned in we are likely to fall short of 2020 targets to slash domestic electricity emissions by 34%.

“If we look over the last five years a lot has changed and a lot of progress has been made making the most energy-sapping appliances more efficient,” said Dr Paula Owen, the author of the report The Elephant in the Living Room. “But where we still have a long way to go is with our gadgets and home entertainment appliances, which are using more and more electricity.”

Big appliances are worst

Some of the biggest offenders in the energy wastage stakes include huge plasma TVs, 600-litre fridge freezers, wireless routers that are kept on all day, tumble dryers and 50W halogen spotlights.

The numbers of domestic gadgets and appliances we have in our homes has jumped 3.5 fold between 1990 and 2009, and overall energy consumption from consumer electronic goods has risen by more than 600% between 1970 and 2009.

Energy saving tips

To avoid a costing both the planet and your wallet, try these tips for saving energy in your home:

• Wash clothes at 40 degrees and try doing more mixed batches using sheets that trap any dye that comes off clothes. When choosing a washing machine look for one that uses less than 50 litres per wash

• Buy appliances that bear the Energy saving trust logo. An energy efficient fridge freezer uses around 60 per cent less energy compared to a 10-year-old model.

• Put several items in the oven to cook at the same time to ensure that the heat isn’t wasted on preparing a single item.

• Use dishwashers that are ranked for water efficiency.

• Smaller appliances use less energy and as a result can help you make savings on running costs

• Get rid of unnecessary features. As an example some kettles have lights or ‘keep warm’ functions which take up precious energy, so try to shop for products that minimise these features.

Policy Expert

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The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.