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Freezers prove electricity offenders in new trial

It's not just Energy Saving Trust that carry out technology field trials – and the Government has just finished an interesting one of its own, looking at 'over-consuming' appliances

This means appliances where their compressor is running for more than 90 per cent of the time – more than they are generally built for, and sometimes suggestive that they may be faulty. 

Looking at cold appliances in 998 English properties, 8 per cent were found to fit this description, while 9 per cent of households overall had at least one appliance that was consuming far too much.

Chilling bills from freezers

The finger of blame is most likely to be pointed at the freezer, and a simple way of finding out if you've got a problem is by listening for the compressor running excessively. That pained whirring you've never paid too much attention to may have consequences. 

The average electricity consumption of an 'over-consuming' appliance was more than double the average electricity consumption you might expect, at around 400kWh per year more. In monetary terms, this is around £55 per year or 10 per cent of a total electricity bill. 

So, there are big medium and long-term savings to be made here. But an unfortunate fact that came out of the trial is that households in the lowest income band were the most likely to own an old, over-consuming appliance. However, they are also the least equipped to remedy this by buying a new one. 

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Taking action on over-consumption

Fridge and freezerBut there are other approaches beyond making a purchase to tackle the issue. So what are the main reasons for over-consumption – and how can they be resolved?

In over half of cases, it's the way its operated by its owner. This might mean leaving the fast freeze setting on, being set too cold, or putting in warm food. Easy mistakes that can be simply remedied with a little bit of care and attention. 

Then, there are the basics. Appliance age, type, size and location have a big impact, with larger and older appliances more likely to over-consume. But location problems can be solved by moving the appliance away from warm items, out of direct sunlight, or allowing airflow over the compressor.

Faults or damage are of course a possibility too. There a number of parts of a freezer, for example, that can malfunction, such as the refrigeration system, thermostat, fans, door hinges and seals. Maintenance could well be the answer here – something likely to be cheaper than getting a new appliance. 

If it does come down to replacing your household's problematic electricity consumer, it might be a good idea to first check out the best in class from Topten UK

Learn more about our field trials or email our dedicated team for more information. Follow @Top10Energy, a free, impartial consumer guide to the most energy efficient products for your home.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or tweet @EnergySvgTrust.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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