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Everything that we plug into a socket adds to our electricity bills, but there are considerable differences in their efficiency, so it's worth taking that into consideration when you buy a new appliance or gadget.

Research published in June 2012 found that just leaving electrical goods on standby costs the average household between £50 and £86 per year (that's a whopping £1.3bn on UK electrical bills a year). Remarkably it's about the same as the average electrical costs of laundry per year per household, and half the cost of washing dishes (for those with dishwashers).

Energy rating

On the surface, the easiest way to identify good performers is by the energy rating. However, it's not necessarily as simple as it seems. The ratings are given for particular size brackets, so for example a small B-rated fridge might use less electricity than a larger A-rated one.

In addition, you can't rely on A being the best possible score an appliance can get. To continue with the examples of fridges. Most fridges now meet the requirements to get an A-rating. So two additional categories have been created, A+ and A++.

In general, it makes sense to buy the best rated one you can afford.

The Energy Saving Trust offers a shortcut to finding the products with the best energy use. Just look out for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo.

For more detail about the cost of running a vast range of appliances, visit the independent website Sust-it. They have researched manufacturers data on more than 10,000 products in order to help you make more informed purchasing decisions.

Another detailed energy use calculator worth taking a look at is the Kagoo energy cost calculator which gives you the annual cost of running different appliances based on how much you use them and, if you have the details, the energy tariff you use. 

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