Habits of a LifetimeThe Habits of a Lifetime report was the first cross-European survey to try and understand how households use energy. It gave an insightful look into the habits that different nations have picked up and how good or bad different countries are at being efficient with energy. The survey – conducted across the UK Germany, France and Spain – uncovered that Germans are the best energy savers while Britain were the worst for energy wasting.

The Energy Saving Trust, the consumer advisory body on energy efficiency who commissioned the report, predicts that by 2010, £11bn and 43m tonnes of carbon dioxide will have been unnecessarily spent and burnt in Europe. That’s equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of over 7 million homes.

The UK’s Worst Energy Habits

Leaving Appliances on Standby

From the TV to the stereo, leaving electrical appliances on standby is the worst energy wasting habit in the UK. People in the UK are twice as likely to forget to switch items off at the mains as Germans and this bad habit costs each household in the UK £37 a year. Not leaving items on standby would save enough electricity to power a massive 1.2 million homes every year.

Leaving Chargers Plugged In

Overall, Italians are the worst culprits when it comes to leaving chargers plugged in and switched on, but the UK is not far behind. 65% of UK consumers claim to do this at least once a week. Next time you charge your mobile phone or MP3 player, take it out at the mains. Left on, a charger nearly uses the same amount of electricity as when it’s in use. Currently, forgotten chargers account for a quarter of a million tonnes of CO2 every year and use enough electricity to power over 100,000 homes.

Forgetting to Switch the Lights Off

It’s one we’ve all probably done in the past, but forgetting to switch the lights off when leaving a room is a massive energy waster across Europe. Here in the UK, 63% of us surveyed do this once a week – that’s twice as often as in France, and four times more often as in Germany. Lighting our homes costs £1.9 billion a year, so switching off lights we don’t need would slash CO2 emissions.

Using the Car for Short Journeys

Nearly half of us use a car when public transport, cycling or walking would be a possible alternative. Though using a car when you pop to the shops doesn’t seem like much, short journeys all add up. In the UK, commuters drive around 85 billion miles a year. Leaving the car at home just one day a week would slash this figure by as many miles it would take to drive to the moon and back 35,000 times. This would reduce CO2 emissions by over 5 million tonnes and cut the UK’s overall CO2 emissions by 1%.

More Findings

The Habits of a Lifetime report also indicated some other interesting energy trends.

57% of those surveyed supported the idea of the Government introducing environmental health warnings on products that are not energy efficient. Almost half believe that more information about saving energy and education – explaining how energy affects both our bills and the environment – is needed from the government, and that this would help to reduce CO2 emissions.

Women felt more guilty and responsible for their energy wasting actions than men did, with 20% of men feeling no guilt whatsoever for wasting energy at home on a regular basis. Interestingly, more 18-24 year olds are concerned with energy efficiency than any other age group.