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By Ollie Cooper, Money team

We’ve all heard consumer advice that’s repeated so often it almost becomes cliché. So, every Friday the Money team will get to the bottom of a different “fact” and decide whether it’s a myth or must.

This week it is…

‘Leaving devices on standby or on at the wall wastes cash’ 

Should we really be switching the TV off at the wall every time?

For this one, we’ve got the help of Kelly Becker, president of Schneider Electric UK and Ireland.

“Switching the TV off at the mains to save electricity is a sensible idea but the savings are minimal,” Kelly says. 

She describes the money you spend on devices on standby as “a drop in the ocean” compared to what we spend on hot water and heating. 

Those things are the biggest drain on our energy bills, accounting for roughly 80% of household energy. Lighting and appliances, however, account for only 13%, she says. 

Devices left on standby generally only account for a maximum of 1-2% of our monthly bill.

What does that look like?

“For instance, a [typical] boiler consumes around 200W when running and 600W just to get started,” she says. 

By contrast, the average TV consumes roughly 60-120W when running and uses as little 0.5W in standby mode.

Running your standard LCD TV costs roughly 3p per hour under the new price cap that comes into effect on 1 April. 

Kelly and her team were unable to calculate the exact cost of how much a TV on standby would cost for one hour because the wattage was so low – but some energy calculators suggest it’s as little as £0.000145. 

We aren’t saying that savings are non-existent – and it’s certainly better for the planet and (albeit to a very limited extent) your wallet – but to say it’s making significant dents in your bills would be a drastic exaggeration. 

Want to maximise savings?

As we just said, we aren’t saying don’t do it – if you want to shave off every penny and don’t mind putting in the work to do so, here are a few tips.

“We can economise by turning devices off before we go to bed or while we’re at work – the cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use, and this is a good place to start,” Kelly says. 

Simple enough – but what about those things that have a standby mode?

“Unfortunately, games consoles, set top boxes, TV streaming devices and other appliances aren’t designed to be switched off,” Kelly says.

Standby tends to be the default setting when not in use – allowing for software updates but also the convenience of picking up exactly where you left off streaming or gaming.

So how do we tackle those?

“Using smart plugs combined with advanced energy monitoring systems, you can schedule sockets to turn on and off automatically to suit your daily patterns,” Kelly suggests.

By using the latter, it is possible to monitor electricity consumption per device to work out what’s worth switching off – although you’d obviously need to weigh up whether the expense of purchasing one is worth it. 

Smart plugs retail from £8 up to around £40. 

You could invest instead in timed automated switches, which can be cheaper and effectively do the same thing – but these are often battery powered, so you’d need to consider that cost, too. 

Myth or Must?

If you think you’ll be saving a fortune religiously switching off every device in the house at the plug – you’d be incorrect.

That being said, if you want that 1-2% cut off the energy bill and don’t mind the effort of reaching behind the telly every time (or investing in smart plugs), there’s certainly no harm.

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