martes, 26 de junio de 2012

UK homes getting more hungry for electricity

For example, it found that up to 16% of households' energy bills are spent on devices left on standby.

It is estimated that domestic energy use accounts for more than a quarter of the nation's CO2 emissions.

Fridge/freezer (Images: SPL)
The report was commissioned by the government and the Energy Saving Trust to unearth the nation's energy habits.

"This standby power is double what we have assumed it to be in past models and policy assumptions," explained Paula Owen, the report's lead author.

"Before, we have always gone with an 8% figure so it was quite a shock."

Within in this study, Dr Owen explained, standby had a slightly wider remit from its traditional perception of the red lights on TVs and videos.

"When we talk about standby in this context, we are talking about things that are on standby and things [that] are idle, rather than [doing] what they are primarily designed to do," she said.

The modern home contained an average of 41 devices, compared with a dozen or so in the 1970s.

The UK year-long study, commissioned by EST, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc), involved more than 250 households.

Only two previous studies of its kind have been carried out before.

In 2008, Sweden detailed the electricity consumption of 400 households, while a study in France considered the use in 100 homes during 2007.'Don't live alone'

Dr Owen explained: "One of the more surprising findings from the study is the amount of use from single occupancy households, which were shown to be using as much as, even more than, as family occupied homes."
The emergence of electric cars could place an additional strain on the National Grid

Another insight was the use of washing machines, which varied greatly across the sample group, Dr Owen said.

"Typically, people use their washing machine 300 times a year; we found that there were some people who were using it three time a day.

"So there is a lot of evidence in this report that shows how people are using their electrical equipment, as well as how often they are using it."

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust (EST), said that it was "crucial that households across the nation make informed decisions by having the right advice to help them reduce their energy usage and fuel bills".

"This research shows that there's still more work to be done with consumer advice, product innovation and take up of energy-efficiency labelling," he said.

Environment minister Lord Taylor said the government and households could not control the rising cost of energy but could play a part in ensuring that it was used more efficiently.

"Our study has found that homes can save up to £85 by just switching things off and not leaving them on standby," he said.

"Some savings can be made by us, as individuals, by just being more sensible in the way we use energy."

Dr Owen said a big issue for the future would be the increasing popularity of electric vehicles.

"This will dramatically increase our pull on the grid," she told BBC News.

"That is the big growth area over the coming decades, if electric cars do become popular, so we need to see offsets in the domestic setting in order to allow us to power our vehicles in the future."

Rosalyn Foreman, energy adviser for the EST, explained that there were still traditional areas where their efforts could be focused.

"The fridge and the freezer in a house are the real energy eaters. They are the ones that can make a real difference, and it is easier to target the consumer on buying a better appliance.

"It is areas like this where you can make a difference and influence people.

"But we have never had the evidence down to this level of detail before, so it gives us an insight into what we can target and how we target it."

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