LONDON (Reuters) - British households waste as much as 1.3 billion pounds ($2.02 billion) a year on leaving appliances such as televisions or computers in standby mode, much higher than previously thought, a government-commissioned study showed on Tuesday.
Average households pay up to 86 pounds extra on yearly electricity bills to leave gadgets in standby mode instead of switching them off completely, the study showed.
"Total standby consumption can potentially be 16 percent of domestic power demand. This is significantly higher than the current five to ten percent estimated for domestic standby power," said the Energy Saving Trust, a non-profit organization commissioned by the government to carry out unprecedented in-depth research into domestic electricity demand.
The study measured electricity consumption behavior over a 12-month period of around 250 British households which owned an average of 41 electrical products, compared with around a dozen of appliances used in the 1970s.
The research also proved that one-person households use as much or even more electricity than average family homes.
"In particular, in the activities of cooking and laundry we observed the power demand of lone dwellers matching or exceeding those of average family units," the Energy Saving Trust said.
Overall electricity demand in British households turned out 10 percent higher than the national average currently used in calculations.
The households in question even classified themselves as being careful with their energy use, the study said.
Reducing domestic energy demand is one of the key mechanisms through which the government aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions as household energy use accounts for over a quarter of Britain's carbon emissions.
The government's so-called Green Deal program aims to help households improve insulation by offsetting payments for energy efficiency through savings made on energy bills. ($1 = 0.6427 British pounds)
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by James Jukwey)