Dec 22

Could your gadgets be costing you money?

January is notoriously known as the month where no one seems to have any money. December has passed and the splurging that took place is a distant memory, it’s time to address your finances. The usual spending cutbacks begin, but did you know that the gadgets and electronics that litter your home could, in fact, be costing you money?

Gadgets and electronics have been present in the home since the early 20th century so, to many, they’re nothing new, just part of the furniture.

Though, there are a number of ways household gadgets and electronics can waste energy and ultimately bump up your energy bills. One simple way is leaving them plugged in after charging is complete. This includes your phones or laptops, because once charging is complete they will continue to use energy from the mains.

Perhaps another obvious, yet frequently overlooked, area is a device’s standby function. In our increasingly technologically focused society, the number of products on standby in the home has increased, a quick look around the home and most likely your TV, satellite box, computer, games console and washing machine all have a standby mode. In fact, anything that uses a LED is secretly sapping a small amount of energy, including microwaves and many standard ovens.

The amount of power an appliance uses on standby differs for each appliance, which makes it hard to determine exactly how much energy is being wasted. The best way to prevent any unnecessary wastage is to turn off appliances that aren’t in regular use. By making small changes like this, throughout the year you could save up to £150.

As technology has developed, electronics have tended to need less power to run. Companies are directly addressing the concerns of consumers and energy efficiency is at the forefront of many large corporations. With companies such as Hitachi releasing the 1W standby mode in an attempt to lower the amount of power used by its machines when not being used.

However, not all companies have energy efficiency at the top of their agenda. Last year British Gas conducted research into the energy consumption of Xbox One and PS4. They found that the cost of running a games console has quadrupled since the 1990s, costing a household an extra £40 a year on average in extra energy consumption, largely down to their ‘always on’ nature.

For many, the key question is whether you’re actually better off paying the extra money for energy efficient items. In short, yes it is. The Energy Saving Trust found that a single halogen light bulb’s normal usage costs £8.42 a year to run, whereas a initially more expensive energy efficient LED light bulb only costs £1.71. So you might spend more initially, however since energy efficient LED bulbs last longer, you earn the money back many times over in the long term.

Once you have identified what appliances in the household might be costing you money, you need to begin researching products, whilst continuing to focus on savings. This means making sure you buy the correct model for your home requirements. For example, if you’re a house of two people, then buying an American style refrigerator is not going to equate to a saving – a smaller under-counter fridge may be more appropriate.

It’s also important to also pay attention to the energy efficiency ratings. Ideally, you want a product with the rating of ‘A’. Shopping around for a bargain is also important, if you want a new fridge in December, try to wait until January when the sales start. By carefully planning around new products you might need, you can try to slot in buying these items when there are sales operating.

When it comes to disposing of old electronics it’s great to recycle as many items as possible. It’s easy to do and many of your local recycling centres take a wide range of electronic devices. You can use Recycle Now to find out where your nearest centre is and what you can recycle there. Alternatively, you might be able to sell some of your electronic gadgets to buyer companies to gain some extra cash. This can even include old laptops, PCs and tablets.

Another way of saving on energy bills are Smart Meters. These are a relatively new technology that helps households understand their energy usage. According to uSwitch every home in Britain will have a smart meter by 2020. These meters give real-time usage info, including kWh use and cost, helping homes understand what technology could indeed be causing their electricity bills to rise. This means a consumer will start getting more accurate bills, so no extra charges hiding in your bill! Installation of the meters costs nothing and will be covered by your energy provider.

By understanding what habits and technologies could be costing or saving your household money, you can begin to drive down your electricity bill for 2017. With the emergence of new technologies such as smart meters, you’ll be able to take even more control over your energy consumption in the future, and importantly, cut your household bills!


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