UK mobile operator O2 has this week launched an energy efficient universal mobile phone charger.

The Telefonica owned company claims that the Universal Charger is the first of its kind, and can cut energy consumption by as much as 70 per cent compared to standard chargers.

The unit, which is compliant with the US Energy Star rating system, uses a power control systems to considerably reduce charge to the mobile phone once the battery is fully charged even if the charger is left switched on in a plug socket. Heat loss from gadget chargers is a source of significant energy loss.

Many consumers are unaware that phone chargers continue to use electricity when disconnected from the phone but left plugged into the wall socket. Device vendors claim about two thirds of the energy used by mobile devices is wasted in this way.

Last month, the world’s biggest handset vendors got together to launch a common energy rating system for mobile phone chargers, cluing consumers into the best, and worst performing models.

The five star rating system was developed and is supported by Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony Ericsson, under an industry wide initiative to reduce the environmental footprint of telecoms products.

O2’s Universal Charger is now available at all UK O2 stores for £14.99. It will be available at an introductory discounted price of £7.49 when purchased with an O2 handset until year end. Additional connection cables are available for £4.99.