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New survey reveals 'watt' the top reasons are for leaving the lights on

20th September 2018

A new survey has today revealed the top reasons why we leave the lights on in empty rooms – with around one in eight (12 per cent) saying they leave it on as a nightlight while they sleep.

Taken together, this means that Great Britain could be racking up a potential total energy bill of over £20 million a year to keep the lights on overnight - with many households in the dark about how much this extra energy is costing.

The research was conducted by Smart Energy GB as part of its Campaign for a Smarter Britain to highlight how getting a smart meter installed by your energy supplier at no additional cost will mean that you can clearly see how much it costs to leave on the lights, helping you cut back on energy waste and save money.

Other reasons for leaving the lights on in an empty room include:

  • simple forgetfulness – Scots admit to being the most forgetful, with 32 per cent blaming their bad memories. Wales is close behind with 30 per cent forgetting to flip that switch, followed by England on 28 per cent
  • to help pets feel less lonely if they were at home by themselves, with 8 per cent of animal lovers in England and Scotland making sure their animals aren’t left in the dark and 7 per cent in Wales
  • security – some 27 per cent of people in England said they left the lights on to make it look like someone was at home, followed by 25 per cent in Scotland and 23 per cent in Wales

Robert Cheesewright, Director of Policy and Communications, Smart Energy GB, said:

Thankfully there’s an easy way for everyone in Britain, including the millions of pet owners, to take the lead on reducing their energy use – and it doesn’t involve leaving Fido sitting in the dark.

“By getting a smart meter from your energy supplier at no additional cost, you’ll be able to see in pounds and pence how much gas and electricity you’re using, helping you to identify where you’re wasting energy. 

“This means that you can save your energy and money for the things that light up your life, like your children or pets, instead of wasting money leaving appliances on standby or forgetting to turn the lights off.”

-ENDS-

A GB-wide and nations breakdown is below:

The YouGov survey found that the top 7 reasons why people in Great Britain leave lights on in unused rooms were:

  • I plan to go back in – 38 per cent
  • I forget to turn it off – 29 per cent
  • For security – 27 per cent
  • As a ‘nightlight’ – 12 per cent
  • It’s in a communal area (shared house/hallway) – 11 per cent
  • As lighting for another room – 9 per cent
  • For a pet – 8 per cent

The top 7 reasons why people in England leave lights on in unused rooms were:

  • I plan to go back in – 39 per cent
  • I forget to turn it off – 28 per cent
  • For security – 27 per cent
  • As a ‘nightlight’ – 13 per cent
  • It’s in a communal area (shared house/hallway) – 11 per cent
  • As lighting for another room – 9 per cent
  • For a pet – 8 per cent

The top 7 reasons why people in Wales leave lights on in unused rooms were:

  • I plan to go back in – 40 per cent
  • I forget to turn it off – 30 per cent
  • For security – 23 per cent
  • As a ‘nightlight’ – 12 per cent
  • It’s in a communal area (shared house/hallway) – 10 per cent
  • As lighting for another room – 8 per cent
  • For a pet – 7 per cent

The top 7 reasons why people in Scotland leave lights on in unused rooms were:

  • I plan to go back in – 41 per cent
  • I forget to turn it off – 32 per cent
  • For security – 25 per cent
  • As a ‘nightlight’ – 12 per cent
  • It’s in a communal area (shared house/hallway) – 12 per cent
  • For a pet – 8 per cent
  • As lighting for another room – 7 per cent

N.B. Calculations undertaken by Smart Energy GB and available upon request

About the survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size for the GB survey was 2044 adults and fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd and 4th April 2018. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Total sample size for the Welsh survey was 1007 and fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd and 5th April. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Welsh adults (aged 18+).

Total sample size for the Scottish survey was 2037 and fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd and 10th April. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).

Total sample size for the English survey was 1759, and were taken from the GB sample. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all English adults (aged 18+). The surveys were carried out online.

About Smart Energy GB

Smart Energy GB is the voice of the smart meter rollout. It’s our task to help everyone in Great Britain understand smart meters, the national rollout and how to use their new meters to get their gas and electricity under control. Our national campaign is reaching households and microbusinesses in England, Scotland and Wales.

About smart meters and the rollout

Smart meters replace the traditional meters we currently have in our homes. They enable accurate bills, near real time information on energy use in pounds and pence, and greater control over the way we buy and use energy. The smart meter rollout is an essential technology upgrade, unprecedented in its scale, to improve Great Britain’s energy infrastructure.

There are already more than 12 million smart meters installed in homes and microbusinesses across Great Britain. Every household in England, Scotland and Wales will be offered one at no additional cost. Contact your energy supplier about getting your smart meter.

Smart Energy GB media contacts

For more information including interview requests, case studies of smart meter users, infographics, photography and video content please contact the Smart Energy GB media team:

Helen Croney: [email protected] 0131 322 6204 / 07921 458 041