RISING demand for consumer electronics is hampering the fight against climate change, a report warned yesterday.
Digital radios, set-top boxes, laptops, plasma TVs, DVDs and computers have all soared in popularity.
But sophisticated new gadgets often use more power than older models, the report by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) said.
It predicted that by 2010, consumer electronics, computers and home entertainment systems would use 45 per cent of domestic electricity, with the equivalent of 14 power stations needed just to feed these devices.
The EST says having more hi-tech kit dotted around the home means consumers often forget what they have left switched on. And some electronic goods have no manual "off" switch, so they are permanently left on.
Some hi-tech devices are less energy-efficient than their predecessors. For example, because of set-top boxes, many viewers use more electricity while watching TV. By contrast, the latest designs of traditional domestic appliances, such as fridges and washing machines, are more energy-efficient than earlier models.
The increase in single- person households is also taking its toll on energy use. The EST said young, cash-rich professionals, who are quick to buy new technology, would see entertainment, computer and information technology taking up a growing proportion of their electricity bills.
Philip Sellwood, EST chief executive, said: "The report holds up a mirror to all of us and shows how easy it is to lose track of what is sucking up energy in our homes and costing us and the environment dear."
The EST is an independent non-profit organisation that was set up to help tackle climate change.