Britons are the worst energy wasters in Europe with bad habits which could cost �11bn by 2010, a survey of Europe's five most populous nations suggests. Leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in, appliances on standby and lights on are among their most common failings.

If the levels of wastage continue, an extra 43m tonnes of carbon dioxide will be pumped into the atmosphere by then, the Energy Saving Trust said. It interviewed 5,000 people in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Figures in the Habits of a Lifetime report, commissioned to mark the start of Energy Saving Week, said 71% of UK consumers admit to leaving standby buttons on once a week.

Meanwhile, 65% of UK consumers leave chargers on once a week and 63% forget to switch the lights off when leaving the room. The comparison with German consumers, who top the energy efficiency league, reveals major differences. Britons leave chargers on three times as much as Germans, they leave standby buttons on twice as much and forget to switch off lights four times as much.

Almost half (48%) of Britons admit to using the car for short journeys rather than public transport, walking or cycling. The Spanish were said to be the next most efficient users of energy after Germany, followed by France and Italy.

Philip Sellwood, EST chief executive, said: "As a result of this research, we are calling on the nation to undertake a series of daily habit-changing actions during energy saving week. "It is clear from the study we can't band everyone as 'a consumer'.

The aim will be to galvanise the nation into breaking their energy habits one by one." Within the UK, a number of interesting statistics emerged concerning age and gender. Both men and women admitted about 32 energy wasting actions per week although 20% of males felt no guilt compared with 9% of the opposite sex.


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