06/08/2018 – The results are in and Southerners are the most guilty of forgetting to switch off unused lights, devices and appliances – leaving over 11.8 million more electronics on or on standby than those in the North of England each day – according to research by Schneider Electric , the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation.
With approximately 77 million lights left on in the UK daily (when not required), each household in the South West leaves, on average, one additional light or device per household on or on standby than those in the North West, resulting in almost 5 million more lights, devices and appliances wasting energy in the South West than in the North West each day.
London leaves the most lights burning away unnecessarily as well as devices and appliances on or in stand-by mode, on average 3.3 per household or 11 million in total each day. The number of lights and devices left on or on standby is the lowest in the North East with an average household there leaving 2.3 lights and devices on every day (when not required).
The North-South divide is also clear when it comes to who cares about prioritising environmental factors. People in Midlands are twice (8%) as concerned as in Scotland (3%) were about improving their recycling efforts. Only 4% of the Welsh think this is a challenge worth taking on whereas 10% of inhabitants in the North East think this is an area of concern.
Schneider Electric calculates that the world will consume 1.5 times more energy within the next 40 years thanks to the increasing electrification of all aspects of our lives. Over the same time, we need to halve CO2 emissions in order to avoid irreversible damage to our planet.
Schneider’s research shows that 90% of UK consumers have no plans to do more to improve their own well-being and that of the planet.
Worryingly, 16% of respondents, approximately 10.2 million UK residents, said they have no intention of curbing their energy consumption habits whatsoever, whilst 74% believe they are already saving energy. However, according to official UK figures UK households are now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for one-quarter of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
If we are to reverse the trend of over-usage of the earth’s natural resources, it is clear that energy efficiency and more renewable energy is a much bigger challenge than we realise. Previous studies have suggested that over £1bn worth of energy is wasted each year by electronic devices and appliances left on or on standby. However, just 6.2% of the UK population think we need to reduce our energy consumption. Almost half of us, 46%, believe our partners or children to be the worst culprits for leaving lights, devices and appliances switched on in their home - only 9% blame themselves.
“We all need to look at how we can start to reverse this trend of using the Earth’s resources faster and faster. This includes how we produce goods in manufacturing plants, how we occupy buildings, store our data and even when we turn on the lights at home. It is worrying that UK consumers believe that they are already doing enough when it comes to their lifestyle choices, especially when it comes to the environment. Collectively, we must become three times more efficient if we are to successfully meet the challenge ahead.
“As our country becomes increasingly digitised and electrified we need to become smarter about how we generate and consume energy. Efficiency holds the key to our future well-being and it is clear that we need to engage and educate the UK’s younger generations as a matter of urgency,” says Mike Hughes, Zone President for the UK and Ireland at Schneider Electric.
When it comes to air pollution, being ‘in the thick of it’ and regardless of the relentless government efforts to reduce pollution in the Big Smoke, Londoners saw this as half as important as those in Wales did.
What’s really holding us back, when it comes to reducing pollution and energy waste? Londoners may have the reputation of being the most pressed for time in the UK but only 29% cite time pressures due to work hours / requirements as a reason for not acting in a more environmentally-conscious way. On the other hand, one in every three (33%) Scots reported that time pressures due to work hours was holding them back from taking on environmental concerns. In both regions, one in three cited difficulties breaking old habits and keeping motivated; only one in ten said that social commitments clashed with their eco-friendly intentions.
In terms of what motivates UK consumers to save electricity, cost pressures trump our moral sense of responsibility - 56% said rising energy bills would be most likely to lead to a change in behaviour. Only 25% of UK consumers said that the benefits for future generations would motivate them to reduce the impact of carbon emissions on the environment; 42% said that financial incentives from the government would help motivate them to be more environmentally-conscientious.
Brexit casts a shadow over UK’s Green Future
The Schneider Electric survey indicates that short-term concerns are dwarfing longer-term environmental issues. Almost two thirds (62%) of the population thought Brexit was our biggest challenge while only 26% believed that health and well-being were important, meanwhile 21% felt the inequality between rich and poor needed to be addressed and only 13% believed that the environment deserved attention on the national agenda.
UK consumers believe the government should be investing in health and wellbeing (39%). One third (34%) said that if they were in charge they would put their money towards ensuring the smooth transition for the UK whatever the future holds.
Winning over Gen Z is vital
Generation Z – or young adults between the age of 18 and 24 – were half as likely to think that reducing energy consumption is an issue and four times less likely to believe that cutting plastic waste is an issue compared to those over the age of 55. Gen Z also admits to leaving on average 3.38 lights, chargers, electronic devices or appliances either on or on standby each day in their homes versus 2.1 for over 55s.
Over a quarter of the Gen Z respondents (28%) said they had no desire to reduce their plastic waste, energy consumption (27%) or start recycling any time soon (25%). However, 29% intend to cut plastic waste, 20% promise to recycle more and 17% are committed to reducing their energy consumption by switching off unused lights and devices as they were not doing this already.
As digital natives, GenerationZ - already big consumers of energy – are more likely to livestream videos than watch traditional TV or read a book, shop online and use connected devices. This generation will be the biggest energy users of tomorrow.
“Winning over Generation Z could be the tipping point between whether the UK will become a nation driven by efficiency or whether we will drown in a waste-filled future. They are more apathetic, while at the same time more likely to promise to change their future behaviour than any other age group – showing a significant opportunity to drive change. This age group is the most critical to the UK achieving its future climate goals and reversing the overshoot trend,” Hughes concludes.