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survey finds young people worst for energy wastage

Despite their reputation for engagement with environmental issues and position as a lucrative potential market for green businesses, young people are more guilty of wasting energy and water than their older counterparts.

That is the surprising conclusion from a new survey of more than 2,000 UK adults, which found that 55 per cent of 18-24-year-olds could not tell which household appliance consumed more energy - tumble dryers or incandescent light bulbs - compared to 43 per cent of Great Britain's consumers overall.

Meanwhile, almost three quarters of the so-called Generation-Y age group admitted to some form of water wastage, with 56 per cent of younger respondents admitting to leaving the tap running while cleaning their teeth and 40 per cent stating that they turn on the shower a few minutes before getting in.

Jon Z Bentley, energy and environment partner for IBM Global Business Services, which commissioned the survey, warned that green campaigners and businesses could not afford to assume that younger people will be automatically more engaged with initiatives to conserve natural resources.

"Climate change and the need to be careful in our use of energy, water and other natural resources are not transient issues. They will be with us for the next 40 years and beyond," he said. "Generation Y are the leaders, consumers and educators of the future. The ability is there to act now so they can sustain and accelerate the changes that we must all bring about quickly."

The survey also revealed that it is not just younger people who are guilty of wasting water, calculating that the average British adult wasted 277 litres of water in just the first week of June 2009 - enough to meet the daily fluid intake of 230 adults.

The report added that this level of water waste equated to 1.8 billion litres of water across the UK each day, costing the average domestic customer £77 a year in extra water bills.

According to the charity Waterwise, each person in the UK could reduce their water wastage by a third by making simple behaviour changes, such as turning off taps when not in use.

In April the Environment Agency published proposals to reduce water wastage, including domestic metering and fixing leaks.

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