Gallery: UK’s Love For Gadgets Jeopardizes 2020 Energy Target


The EU has been doing well in its drive to adopt alternative energy – many countries are well on their way to receiving 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2020. In fact, many European countries have already begun to exceed this target – however one nation is jeopardizing all their hard work – my home country of the United Kingdom. According to a new report from the Energy Saving Trust, the UK is set to miss its 2020 target to cut domestic electricity by 34% due to the country’s love for high-tech gadgets.

The report, titled The Elephant in the Living Room: how our appliances and gadgets are trampling the green dream, says that the country’s ‘love affair’ with domestic electrical gadgets will see the UK fail to reduce up to 7 million tons of CO2. What’s worse is that a third of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from homes, where the typical Brit now owns three and a half times more gadgets than they did 20 years ago.

It is easy to see why – after all, I am currently writing this article on my netbook while listening to my iPod and I am very much aware that I have a lava lamp on in the corner (yes, I’m that cool). It’s no surprise to see why domestic energy use has increased in such a big way.

The most energy-hungry gadgets are large plasma TVs, fridge freezers with ice-makers, and tumble dryers. (Luckily, I only have the TV and it’s a LCD.) The report states that if those UK homeowners that own these gadgets were to replace them with more efficient versions, then the country could save £585 million on their fuel bills and prevent two million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Report author Dr Paula Owen said: “Our love affair with domestic gadgets and gizmos has to change, just because you have bought an efficient appliance, doesn’t mean you can use it carelessly and never switch it off. We need to ask ourselves is that ice-maker in the fridge a necessity? Do I need to leave those chargers on the whole time? Do I need a 50+ inch TV screen? There’s more to this issue than using energy-efficient light bulbs, not only can people cut their carbon footprint, but they can also bring down their electricity bills considerably.”

She is really making me feel bad about my home cinema system – luckily, I switch everything off at the mains after use. How about you fellow UK Inhabitat readers – what are you doing to help us meet the 2020 goal?

+ Energy Saving Trust

Via Edie Energy

Images © XuRxO and szeretlek_ma



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  1. caeman October 5, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Switch everything to nuclear and there won’t be any CO2 emitted to make electricity.

  2. Hyncharas October 5, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Well if the world didn’t make 90% of all 3DTVs at 40 inches or above, that might be a start…

    I think what’s needed are technologies that can do what we require and don’t expel CO2. It’s not just a case of limiting our carbon footprint, but realising that some technologies we currently use are never going to get better unless we find ways to make them “green” as well.

  3. lazyreader October 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Boo-hooo. Who should set rules for energy usage in the United Kingdom? The people or the government. The typical Brit now owns three and a half times more gadgets than they did 20 years ago, because said devices may not have existed 20 years ago. How many people in Britain had laptop computers back in 1991? Or smartphones and other devices. Let the people pay their costs for the energy and devices they use. Part 3 of the UK governments police on energy……”To promote competitive markets in the UK and beyond, helping to raise the rate of sustainable economic growth and to improve productivity”….something the private sector can do. The UK will need around 30-35 Gigawatts of new electricity generation capacity over the next two decades. Their one step in the right direction under the Conservatives during the 1980s and 1990s, Government policy was one of market liberalisation linked to the privatisation of state controlled energy companies. Government no longer has the ability to directly control the energy markets, which is a good thing.

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