Energy experts have been telling us for years that leaving things plugged in or turned on when not in use wastes electricity and costs us money. Most of us have got used to turning off the light when we leave the bathroom and a few other energy-saving habits, but most of us still waste power and money by overcharging our mobile devices.

According to E.ON the UK wastes at least £130 million every year just by leaving mobile phones and laptops plugged into a charger long after they’re fully charged. Of the adult parents surveyed, over half blamed the lapse on their kids, but very few claimed they were careful to disconnect from a charger as soon as the device was charged; almost everyone said they left it as long as possible, mostly for the sake of convenience.

It’s not just phones, laptops and tablets; electric toothbrushes were fourth on this list of ‘most often overcharged’, but by far the most common are phones, and the most common offence is leaving them to charge overnight. Most people aren’t aware, says Pollyanna Woodward of Chanel 5’s ‘The Gadget Show’, that constant charging can reduce battery life and generally does more harm than good.

E.ON reports that in the UK a huge percentage of men charge their smartphones while they’re at the pub, and one in ten people surveyed said they plugged in at friends’ homes when visiting – in other words pretty much every chance they get when away from home. When at home, however, the most common reason for overcharging was simply, “I forgot about it.”

The bottom line here is that once a battery is fully charged, the device will operate for the same length of time as if it had been on a charger for days; you can’t increase a charge past full. Be aware of the manufacturer’s minimum expected operating time for a specific battery and the time needed to charge it fully, so at least you know the parameters. What happens after that is up you, but remember that unplugging can save money.


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