The fear of the dark among children is costing UK parents over £260 million per year in energy bills, primarily due to lights being left on. A study conducted on 1,000 parents with children aged between two and ten revealed that three-quarters of them have a child who experiences fear of the dark.
As a result, two-thirds of parents keep lights and lamps switched on for an average of four hours each night to alleviate their children’s fears. This practice adds approximately £20 to household energy bills annually. Furthermore, 74 percent of parents admitted to leaving a light on throughout the night for their children at some point.
However, a quarter of the parents surveyed, in a study conducted by green energy company Bulb, expressed their dislike for leaving lights on, with the cost of energy bills being the primary concern. Moreover, this habit contradicts the efforts of environmentally conscious parents, as the continuous use of lights contributes to an additional 262,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions across the UK each year. This amount is equivalent to powering the energy needs of over 30,000 homes.
The issue extends beyond children, as 43 percent of parents confessed to feeling insecure at night and often resorting to leaving a light on for their own reassurance.
Shaunagh Duncan, sustainability lead at Bulb, highlighted the importance of finding ways to address children’s fear of the dark while keeping energy bills and carbon emissions low. She suggested working with children to overcome their fear gradually so that lights can be switched off completely during nighttime, thus saving money, conserving energy, and providing peace of mind.
Duncan further emphasized that taking a child’s fear of the dark seriously is crucial, as half of the parents surveyed admitted to not always doing so. Additionally, two-thirds of parents believed that excessive attention given to children at bedtime due to their fear of the dark might actually worsen the situation.
Parents also shared various methods they use to soothe their children to sleep, including playing an audiobook, reading a bedtime story, and keeping the bedroom door open.
Shaunagh added that for parents who are not yet at a stage where their child feels comfortable sleeping in the dark alone, there are steps that can be taken to minimize costs and environmental impact. These steps include using energy-saving light bulbs and switching to a green energy provider. Such measures not only help reduce bills but also provide long-term benefits even when the child can eventually sleep without the need for a light.