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Brits Waste £134m A Year By Not Unplugging Chargers

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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The average UK household could save £60 a year by unplugging laptops and phones

UK households waste £134 million a year by leaving gadgets plugged despite the device being fully charged, according to a study by EON.

Nine out of ten people keep gadgets on permanent charge, despite the potential damage to the battery life, the environmental impact and the possibility of saving on average £60 a year on their energy bill.

Wise old heads

The most overcharged devices are laptops, which constitute 43 percent of the total, with mobile phones accounting for 41 percent and iPods ten percent. Other culprits include electric toothbrushes, handheld vacuum cleaners and cordless phones.

One in ten admitted that they were simply too lazy to unplug the gadgets despite the benefits, with people aged 18 and 24 four times more likely to leave them plugged in than those aged 55 or older. It also seems that no demographic is exempt, with one in five children leaving toys on charge.

“It’s crucial that we keep an eye on how much money and energy we’re wasting keeping them charging when we don’t need to,” commented EON’s Emma Thompson. “When you plug in a charger, think about how long it needs to reach full charge, rather than just leaving it on overnight.”

“Generally mobile phones only take two hours to charge but most people leave them plugged in overnight. By unplugging your gadgets once they’re charged, you’ll be helping to reduce your energy bills,” she added.

Growing problem

The problem is likely to grow as the market for gadgets grows, with increased sales of electronics resulting in warnings that the UK may miss emissions targets by 2020. In November it was revealed that almost half of people in the UK are smartphone owners, with demand for power likely to increase as more are sold over the Christmas period.

The energy wasted by idle electronics is not confined to the home as 80 percent of the UK’s desktop computers have no power management solution, which could save £25 in electricity on every PC each year. It was estimated that the cost of businesses leaving electrical equipment on standby during one Christmas period was £110m.

However these potential savings are not enough to convince businesses of the worth of power management as they fear that it could disrupt their IT operations. This has meant employees are taking the lead, with most of them turning off their computers because they are concerned about costs and the environment, not because of company policy.