Over the last few years, there has been a huge rise in the
ownership of tablets and smartphones. This has helped drive a surge in a demand
for electricity, and it’s costing the equivalent of £33 per year for each
household in the UK, new research has shown.
Data analysis commissioned by the team here at Row.co.uk has revealed
that the demand for power from chargers has doubled since 2000. This rise
coincides with the growth of mobile phones, and more recently, smartphones and
To find this figure we analysed data released by the
Department of Energy, divided by the 26.7 million households in the UK.
By 2005 82% of
UK adults owned a mobile phone. Today, 9
out of 10 adults in the UK own a mobile and two thirds of them have more
power-hungry smartphones, according to Ofcom, the communications regulator.
The launch of the iPad in 2010 led to an appetite for
tablets and further increased the demand for power to charge devices. In 2011, just 2% of households owned a tablet.
It’s now 54% of homes –
that’s nearly 15 million tablets.
Our analysis of figures from the Department of Energy shows
that UK households now use the same amount of power to charge up these gadgets
at home as the power needed for all laptop and desktop computers, and
Put another way, consumption by all the chargers across the
UK is equivalent to the total electricity consumption for a year for the cities
of Birmingham and Bradford combined.
The total bill of £903 million makes charging gadgets one of
the biggest areas of electricity consumption for household appliances. Britain only spends more on running its TVs,
fridges and washing machines.
Our team of researchers calculated that the average annual
cost per charger is just over £4 and with 200 million chargers across the UK,
that’s 8 per household, this cost is only going to increase.
While this energy consumption is being offset by reduced
consumption in other areas, such as more energy efficient home appliances, it’s
leading to a multi-million-pound electricity bill for the consumer and an area
of new demand for power from the National Grid.
Some of that power may be consumed by leaving mobile phones
and tablets plugged in when they are fully charged. Tests carried out by
researchers from the Berkley Lab at the University of California found that a
fully charged phone continued to draw 66% of the power it consumed while
We all plug our gadgets in on a daily basis with little
thought of the cost. Our analysis reveals for the first time how much Britain
is paying for keeping our phones and tablets powered up. It also shows how lifestyle changes affect
the way we consume electricity and the amount we need to power our lives.