Could there be £200 hiding in the back of one of your cupboards? According to research done for International E-waste Day last month, that’s the amount the average UK household can raise by selling their unused but working tech devices.

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The study showed that there are an estimated 20 million such items hoarded in UK homes, some of which could be very valuable. A five-year-old smartphone, for instance, may be worth £150. Tablets are worth more, and laptops still more than that – up to £450. So there really could be very useful sums of money lying around in your home.

Step one is destroying – not just deleting – your data. That means more than just pressing “delete” because the data itself may still be retrievable. Back up any important information, sign out of all your accounts, and then completely wipe your data. How to do that varies from device to device, but Recycle Your Electricals (recycleyourelectricals.org.uk) have teamed up with the Information Commissioner’s Office to produce a guide to permanently erasing data from any device. Follow that and your personal info will be unreadable.

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Once you’re happy your device is clean, you can sell it. I would avoid commercial sites that offer you money for old phones and consoles. They normally expect you to send them your valuable device on trust with no guarantee what they will pay. Much better is to sell directly on a website like eBay or Gumtree. The prices they fetch there are the ones quoted above.

Of course, some of the things you find may not work or be broken. But everything inside is worth money – from the copper wires, to the aluminium case, to the gold (yes, gold!) in the electronics. So recycle it. A lot of councils offer kerbside collection, and shops that sell devices have to take old ones back for recycling. Put your postcode into the website to find places near you where you can recycle them safely.

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And please, never chuck them in the bin. They are far too valuable for that.

QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in his column

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Interested in selling your car? Find out how much you could get for it

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