By Daniel Hunter

The Energy Advice Line has poured scorn on recent attacks on teabags, saying the real enemy for households and businesses is overfilled kettles.

The UK’s leading price comparison, switching and advice service for energy users says cuppa devotees should be more worried about wasting electricity than the green credentials of their brew.

“Tea bags are in hot water for being an environmental disaster but if you love a cuppa you should save your concern for the cost of boiling the kettle,” says Julian Morgan, managing director of the Energy Advice Line.

“Most householders and business owners don’t realise that kettles use a lot of electricity and boiling more water than needed is throwing money away and wasting precious resources.

“Tea drinkers might think this is trivial but consider it in perspective: according to the Tea Council, the British drink 60 billion cups of tea each year. That’s an awful lot of electricity being used to boil water.”

Diana Fox Carney, wife of new Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, sparked controversy this week when she said that tea bags were an environmental disaster and one of her “pet hates”. She claimed 40 square cm of bleached, printed paper were wasted for each cup of tea.

But Mr Morgan said teabags were the least of the UK’s problems when it came to the nation’s thirst for a brew. He pointed to figures from the Government’s Energy Saving Trust that showed around two-thirds of tea drinkers regularly overfilled the kettle.

“According to the Trust, a single household could pay for the cost running their television — about £8 per year — by only boiling as much water as they need for their tea and this would reduce greenhouse emissions as well,” according to Mr Morgan.

“The Trust estimates that if everyone in the UK boiled only the water they needed for their tea, enough electricity could be saved to power the nation’s street lights for two months.”

He said rather than ditching teabags, households and businesses would be better off setting clear ground rules for family and employees to follow when filling the kettle. Rules should also be set for switching off appliances when not in use.

Mr Morgan said that the individual cost of running an appliance like a kettle might seem relatively minor but accumulated into a substantial bill over the course of a year.

According to the FrequencyCast website, which analyses the cost of powering appliances, the average cost of running a kettle is around £17.83 per year*.

This is figure is likely to be considerably higher in workplaces with a large number of employees and where the kettle is boiled frequently throughout the day rather than at set tea breaks.

FrequencyCast estimates a 60-watt light bulb switched on for 5 hours per day costs £11.89 a year to run, while a fridge eats up £3.29 worth of electricity annually. The cost of running a desktop PC, monitor and printer totals £55.16, according to FrequencyCast and a TV (switched on for 4 hours a day and on standby for 20) costs £28.08 per year.

“Householders and business owners need to be smart about their electricity use to keep bills under control,” Mr Morgan said.

“To do that they need to make sure appliances are switched off when not in use if appropriate and that those appliances are used wisely, such as only boiling as much water as you need for a mug of tea.

“The other completely free and easy way to keep a lid on spiralling energy costs is to shop around frequently for the cheapest deals and switch supplier regularly.

“Reputable and independent switching services like the Energy Advice Line make it very simple because you can access the best deals from our extensive panel of suppliers at the touch of a button.”

The Energy Advice Line is the UK’s leading impartial comparison, switching and advice service for businesses and householders. It actively campaigns for reform of the UK’s energy market to boost competition, get consumers a better deal from suppliers and lower energy prices.

The Energy Advice Line’s price comparison and switching service is free and completely impartial. Consumers can obtain energy quotes with a few computer strokes based on a diverse panel of energy suppliers including the major players and smaller independent utility companies.

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