The energy crisis reached a new low in the UK last week, with the announcement that the price cap will rocket by 54 per cent.
This circa £700 (€840) rise comes as fossil fuel companies post huge gains; Shell and now BP have reported their highest profits in eight years.
Government help is available to most households in the form of council tax rebates and discounts, the chancellor revealed. While people are taking to the streets on Saturday to protest and promote solutions – including a windfall tax on oil and gas profiteers.
In the face of these seismic shifts, the little things we do at home to try and save energy can feel like small fry. But of course that is also where attention is shifting to as people try and prepare for the cost of living hike.
And in the personal battle against your own energy bill – wherever you are in Europe – one of the best things you can do is get a handle on ‘vampire power’.
This spooky nickname describes how devices suck up energy even when they’re switched off or in standby mode, and it really adds up over the year.
What is the impact on our bills?
Phantom load electricity represents nearly 23 per cent of household electricity consumption, according to a study of Californian homes by the US Natural Resources Defense Council.
A recent report by one of the UK’s biggest energy suppliers shows that vampire power is a serious drain on our wallets, with 16 per cent of an average electricity bill, £75 (or €89), coming from ‘phantom loads’.
One in five people said they were unaware of the phenomenon – which costs Britain £1.6 billion (€1.9bn) annually – according to research by Centrica, the parent company of British Gas.
So with energy prices soaring across Europe, taking control of our sockets is one simple way to keep costs down.
How to defeat vampire power
Unlike with light switches, it’s easy to forget to turn things off at the plug. But with the financial and climate cost in mind, it’s worth building unplugging into your nightly check-list until it becomes a habit.
Microwaves, televisions, computers, game consoles, satellite receivers and internet routers are some of the thirstiest items. Printers and mobile phone chargers are also commonly left on.
Zapping vampire power depends where you are in the world. While UK sockets have a switch that does the trick, most EU countries don’t and so your devices need to be fully unplugged.
Getting an extension lead might help simplify things, as then there’s only one socket to consider. A ‘smart plug’ – like the Hive Active Plug – is another possible tech fix, working like an adapter that you can turn off with a tap of the App.