WEALTHY households in Reading consume an extra 12,700 washing machine cycles’ worth of energy a year compared to those on the lowest incomes, figures reveal.

Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth says the UK’s richest residents must significantly reduce their consumption if the country is to tackle the climate crisis.

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy data shows that households with an annual income of £150,000 or more burned through an average of 21,005 kilowatt hours in gas in the year to June 2018.

This was 11,140kWh more than those with an income of less than £15,000.

One kilowatt hour is the amount of energy it takes to run a 1,000 watt appliance for one hour.

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The consumption figures refer to the median average.

Richer homes also got through 1,546kWh more electricity on average in the 12 months to January 2018.

With the average washing machine cycle using roughly 1kWh, this means the additional energy used by high-income households in Reading over one year would be enough to power the equivalent of 12,686 loads.

Across England and Wales, wealthier households used 11,000kWh more in gas and 2,800kWh in electricity than those on less than £15,000.

Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth, said it is not surprising that the wealthiest in the UK consume most energy.

He said: “The same picture is true across the planet.

“If we are to stop runaway climate change we need the biggest energy consumers to reduce their carbon pollution significantly, while recognising that the lowest consumers might need to increase their consumption in order to have a decent quality of life.”

The climate crisis has featured prominently in the general election campaign this year, with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party pledging to invest billions in home energy-saving upgrades.

Matt Copeland, policy manager at the charity National Energy Action, which campaigns against fuel poverty, said that many poorer households are forced to ration their energy usage, meaning they could be living in a “dangerously cold home”.

The NEA is calling on the next government to extend the Warm Home Discount scheme, which gives low-income homeowners discounts on their energy bills, past 2021.