Waste is never good. Whether it’s food, energy, or time, taking or using more than you actually need is always going to be a move you’ll regret. Most people realize that vampire energy, electrical power that’s consumed by appliances even when they’re not in use, is wasteful. After all, who wants to pay to power a device that’s not even turned on? What many don’t realize is exactly how much all that trace electricity really costs our economy and environment.

A new study published by the UK’s Energy Saving Trust found that domestic background standby consumption in Britain is much higher than previously estimated. In fact, this study, which is one of the first to examine the actual day-to-day use of electricity across a nation, discovered that  households spent up to £861 ($1,340) a year keeping appliances in a standby, or ‘non-active’, state.

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The study, called “Powering the nation – household electricity-using habits revealed,” was conducted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the Energy Saving Trust. The research compiled and examined data obtained from 251 monitoring systems in owner-occupied households across the UK. It showed that, although the public may be aware that energy conservation is necessary and will save them money, they’re unaware of the plethora of ways energy is wasted in the home. As a result, computers, televisions and other electrical products plugged in but not in use or left on standby cost the UK up to £1.3 billion ($2 billion) in electricity bills every year.

The Energy Trust also found “that total standby consumption can amount to 9-16 percent of domestic power demand. This is significantly higher than the current 5-10 percent estimated for domestic standby power.”

According to Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, “the UK government is working with the European Union to ensure that Green Energy Labels are displayed on all new electrical appliances displayed for sale, providing clear and easily recognizable information for consumers about the relative energy consumption and performance of domestic appliances.”

If you’d like to avoid high energy bills in your own home, check out our handy guide to vanquishing energy vampires.

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