We may know the energy label of household appliances and pay attention to a good energy efficiency class when buying a new one. But what about the new television, the new computer for the children, game consoles, mobile phone chargers, etc.? Are these devices also permanently connected to the mains and maybe every family member has one of these devices? Then it is not surprising if the annual electricity consumption totals more than 4,500 kWh.
The independent green energy supplier Polarstern Energie has determined that a typical family in Germany with two children consumes an average of almost 5,700 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The electrical devices alone account for the approximately 4,500 kilowatt hours (kWh) mentioned above (the remainder for electrical hot water preparation). That is around 1,200 euros in electricity costs per year – and the trend is rising. Because this development is driven by the increasing equipment of German households with information, communication and entertainment electronics. In the last five years, it has increased by 15 percent for computers, by 12 percent for mobile phones and by a full 66 percent for game consoles.* (from Destatis et al. Environmental Economic Accounts 2013)
According to the Federal Statistical Office, the electricity consumption for electrical household and communication devices has continued to rise. In 2011, this consumption was 2.3% higher than in 2010, simply due to the higher number of devices, despite higher energy efficiency classes for household appliances and technical improvements to other devices.
We need media and energy awareness
Children’s and young people’s rooms in particular are being “upgraded” more and more digitally. 21 percent of children up to the age of 13 and 82 percent of young people now have their own computer. Owning your own mobile phone is even more widespread, although smartphones have become increasingly important among young people in the last year. Within a year, their smartphone ownership has almost doubled, and every second young person now owns a corresponding device. 36 percent of children between the ages of six and 13 have a computer, laptop or their own television set. Among young people, the equipment rate is significantly higher at 60 percent.
“They often get old, discarded TVs from their parents who buy new plasma or LCD screens,” says Thomas Rathgeb, Head of the Media Competence, Program and Research Department at the Baden-Württemberg State Institute for Communication. In an interview with the independent eco-energy supplier Polarstern, he emphasizes: “The increasing use and availability of media is irreversible. We live in a digital world that we have to deal with. For parents, this means accompanying the development and giving their children sensible suggestions for using the media offers.” (from mpfs / FIM, KIM studies and conversation with Thomas Rathgeb on May 14, 2013)
Florian Henle, co-founder of Polarstern, points out that media education must go hand in hand with energy education. “The more digital media there are in households and the more they are used, the greater their share of energy consumption.” Even a father, Florian Henle pleads for parents to set an example: “Children have to understand the value and importance of energy to understand. It is our job as parents to convey this to them by actively setting an example. Careless energy procurement and consumption is at the expense of the future – and our children in particular feel that.”
The biggest power guzzlers in the family household
Birgit Holfert, energy expert at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, told Polarstern about the biggest energy traps in family households: fridges and freezers are often the number one energy guzzler. “Devices that are 10 to 15 years old quickly consume four times as much as modern devices.” That adds up to electricity costs of up to 180 euros per year.
In Birgit Holfert’s experience, the consumption of entertainment electronics such as televisions is usually underestimated: “Large plasma screens account for up to 1,000 kilowatt hours.” Calculated over the year, that’s around 270 euros. Electronization in children’s rooms is also becoming increasingly noticeable in terms of energy consumption and costs. “The computer is often left on for hours while listening to music. It requires considerably more power than a classic CD player, for example. There are also hidden power traps lurking in game consoles plugged into big screens and in power supplies that stay plugged in.”
Families who want to get to the bottom of their personal energy guzzlers can use the energy checks of the consumer advice center – the basic check costs ten euros – or borrow an electricity meter there themselves. “As a rule, cost savings of several hundred euros are possible with simple measures,” sums up Birgit Holfert.
Energy is the key to a higher standard of living
The examples and figures show the importance of energy in our everyday lives and how strongly it influences our standard and style of living. “Conscious use of electricity is becoming increasingly important in order to put our future on the right track,” says Florian Henle.
The company offers nationwide 100 percent green electricity and 100 percent green gas. At the same time, Polarstern is the first energy supplier to directly support the global energy transition for every customer. “Almost 1.3 billion people around the world still have no electricity. It is also of great importance for health and hygiene, ”says Florian Henle. According to estimates by the UN, an estimated four million people die each year as a result of domestic air pollution caused by dirty oil lamps and open fireplaces, etc., with which people cook, heat and produce light. With Polarstern, Florian Henle not only promotes the expansion of renewable energies in Germany, but also helps families in developing countries to generate their own clean energy. You will receive help with the construction of a micro-biogas plant that is operated with human and animal feces. The system produces enough energy for two cattle or four pigs to use a gas stove and gas lamps.