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British Gas tells customers to turn off "vampire" consoles, laptops to save some money

But energy giant criticised for misleading numbers, passing on bill blame.

British Gas has advised customers to check which devices they are leaving plugged in and consuming power while on standby - including games consoles, laptops, TVs and set-top boxes - in order to save some money on the company's soaring energy bills.

The warning these so-called "vampire devices" are draining power - expensive for you, but also unecessary for the planet - comes as the UK faces an unprecedented energy price hike, while gas and electricity companies continue to turn massive profits.

Indeed, the language of today's call from British Gas has been criticised for passing the blame for high bills onto consumers. There have also been questions asked about the numbers British Gas has used to calculate its savings.

British Gas' own research, published by BBC News, appears to show a possible average saving of £147 per year by switching "vampire devices" off.

This breaks down to £24.61 per year for leaving your TV on standby, £12.17 for "games consoles", and £11.22 for "computers".

Speaking to the BBC, British Gas energy expert Marc Robson advised buying a smart plug, and switching devices off at the mains.

The article has attracted a number of responses which have questioned these figures, particularly those surrounding the cost of leaving a TV on standby. (Since 2013, the European Commission has ruled that TVs must not use more than half a watt of power while in standby mode.)

"This is factually incorrect and is shameless scaremongering by British Gas," one reponse reads. "TVs have been required by law to use 0.5 Watts or less per hour in standby since 2013. That's 4.38kW per year. With electricity at 30p/kW, it will cost £1.31 per year. Saying it costs £24.61 is a lie."

"This is 'have you tried just putting on a jumper' but for the warmer months," added Absolute Radio presenter Ross Buchanan. "Shifting the responsibility of rising bills onto the consumer rather than the government or the energy companies is pretty tasteless regardless of whether your 'research' is accurate (it's not)."

A previous report into claims "vampire devices" were costing UK bill payers large amounts revealed that oft-quoted figures such as the one based on TV standby usage were based on outdated measurements and devices, and unrealistic in practice.

Earlier this year, Xbox said it had quietly moved its consoles to use its energy-saving mode by default, which also now checks and downloads updates while not in use. Microsoft has encouraged anyone still set to its "Instant On" mode to make the switch.

In February, it was reported that British Gas profits had jumped by 44 percent, while owner Centrica said its profits had more than doubled to £948m thanks to a sevenfold increase in oil and gas profits.

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About the Author

Tom Phillips avatar

Tom Phillips

Deputy Editor

Tom is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.

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