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Dads are biggest game and gadget guzzlers in EuropePrint

New research from EDF Energy looks at green opinions across Europe and finds that fathers are the biggest users of leisure appliances in the home.

Fathers across Europe are the biggest users of leisure appliances in the home, according to the second annual Low Energy Alternative Future (LEAF) Index study by researchers from Imperial College London, commissioned by EDF Energy.

As use of leisure appliances contribute to our overall household emissions (which make up 29% of total carbon emissions), the study investigated who were the main users of TVs, games consoles and computers in each household.[1]

The research found that contrary to expectations, it's fathers that spend the most time at home in front of the TV, computer or games console with over a quarter (28%) of those surveyed saying that dads are the main users of non-essential electrical appliances.

In contrast, teenagers spend much less time in front of TVs, Xboxes and similar appliances than many would assume; only 7% of UK households surveyed said that sons aged 13-19 were their main leisure appliance users and only 4% stated this for teenage daughters. Further results show that an average of nearly one-third (30%) of respondents across Europe (33% in the UK) said that residents aged over 20 but without children were the major appliance users at home.

Cutting calories for climate change

What we choose to eat (and how much of it) is important to our carbon footprint because meat production is regarded as having a higher climate impact than other food types, with livestock accounting for around 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.[2] According to recent research (2005-2007), in the UK, meat consumption makes up 13.7% of the calories consumed, lower than Switzerland, Europe's most carnivorous country, with 14.1% of calories coming from meat. Of the total of calories consumed, Italy emerged as the nation with the biggest appetite, with the average person consuming 3657 calories per day, much more than the Swedes, who as the country with the lightest diet consume only 3116 calories per day each. [3]  That constitutes a difference of 541 calories, over a quarter of the average daily allowance for women.[4]

Travelling green

Transport is the only sector that shows a decline in results since last year, showing a worrying shift to more polluting means of travelling, particularly in countries such as Turkey, Sweden and the Netherlands. The surveyed countries showed that the most common method of commuting continues to be by car (50% for the UK). EDF Energy aims to encourage everyone to reduce their carbon footprint by opting for low carbon means of transport; the recent Team Green Britain Bike Week offered free bike fixing workshops across the UK to encourage people to cycle rather than drive for short journeys.

Picking up the pace in the green race

This year, all countries researched by the Index showed overall improvements in their green credentials but Britain only made joint eighth, showing a drop from sixth place last year. Turkey emerged as the country with the most positive attitudes towards climate change and efficient energy habits.

Commenting on the results, Gareth Wynn, Director of London 2012, EDF, said: "We are now just over one year away from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, when the attention of the world will turn to the UK. This represents a huge opportunity to demonstrate that we are making real progress when it comes to living in a more sustainable way. It's therefore encouraging that this year's LEAF Index shows that eight out of ten Britons have already made some change to live a "greener" lifestyle. We've certainly seen a positive response to our own initiatives. In 2009 EDF Energy founded Team Green Britain to help people work together to tackle climate change ahead of the Games and we've certainly had a positive response - the community is now comprised of over a million members.

"However, as the results have shown this year, there is always more that can be done. Britons will need to continue in their efforts to be green in order to keep up with the very positive pace of change we're seeing across Europe in the research. As Britain's largest producer of low carbon electricity, EDF Energy is committed to realising our lower carbon vision for the UK".

Professor Nigel Brandon, Director of the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London, found the results to be consistent: "In comparison with the same study commissioned by EDF Energy last year, this year's LEAF Index has been very positive in the sense that it's shown improvement across the board. However, what we have also seen is that in order for the UK to catch up to the pace of change in the rest of Europe, everyone will need to start thinking about their contribution. Many people might not associate surfing the web or eating a cheeseburger with their carbon footprint, but we hope that with the LEAF Index we've shown just how much of what we do is linked to our environmental impact and inspire people to take action."

Overall findings

The 2011 LEAF country rankings:

1 Turkey
2 France 
=3 Spain 
=3 Sweden 
5 Russia 
6 Germany 
7 Italy 
=8 Switz 
=8 UK 
10 Nlands


ICM interviewed a random sample of 5,511 adults aged 18 to 64.  Interviews were conducted online in 10 countries between 24th of May to 3rd of June 2011, with 1000 interviews in the UK and 500 in all other countries. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  Further information at


[1] DECC UK climate change sustainable development indicator, March 2011

[3]Source:  FAO Statistical Yearbook 2010, Table D.1, 2005-2007 data, Table D.2 for % meat