Guide to appliance efficiency
Household appliances consume a significant proportion of energy and water use in the average Australian homei. We look at how to choose appliances that save energy, water and money.
Nearly half of Australian households in 2011 factored in energy efficiency when choosing appliances for their homesii. One of the primary ways Australians determine the energy efficiency of appliances is by reading the Energy Rating Label; a mandatory scheme for dishwashers, washing machines, clothes dryers, televisions, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, cooktops and ovens.
The Energy Rating Label gives consumers in Australia and New Zealand a convenient way to do this comparisoniii by using a six-star system for most products, where more stars indicate higher efficiency. In 2010, the Energy Rating Label was updated to a 10-star system for refrigerators and air conditioners to acknowledge extremely efficient appliancesiv. The label provides an estimate of the appliance's energy consumption per year.
Water efficiency is measured by the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme using a six-star systemv. The label provides an estimate of the annual water consumption of an appliance at the full capacity of the machinevi.
Appliance efficiency is tested against minimum energy performance criteria, dictated by the Australian Standards. When choosing an appliance for your home, picking one with high energy and water efficiency can be cost effective and reduce your impact on the environmenti.
Modern dishwashers are generally more water and energy efficient than older modelsvii, with some current models being increasingly more water efficient than washing dishes by handviii. Every extra star represents a decrease of 30 per cent in energy consumption from the previous star ratingix. For example, a dishwasher that has a three-star rating is 30 per cent more efficient than one with a two-star rating. Additionally, a dishwasher with a three-star water rating, for example, uses 30 per cent less water than a basic one-star modelx,xi.
Older washing machines can use considerable amounts of water and energy so it's important to check the energy and water efficiency of different models when buying a new washing machinevii. Each extra energy star represents a 27 per cent decrease in energy usage from the previous star ratingxii. For example, a washing machine that has a three-star rating is 27 per cent more efficient than one with a two-star ratingxii. Also a washing machine with a three-star water rating, for example, uses 50 per cent less water than a basic one-star modelxii.
The average electric clothes dryer adds three kilograms of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for each drying loadvii. Each additional energy star represents a 15 per cent decrease in energy consumption from the previous star rating. For example, a clothes dryer with a three-star rating is 15 per cent more efficient than one with a two-star ratingvii. Of course, the most environmentally friendly option is the trusty clothes linexiii.
Choosing the most efficient television can greatly reduce your energy usagevii. LCD televisions are usually cheaper to run and more efficient than plasma televisionsvii. Each additional energy star represents a 20 per cent decrease in energy consumption from the previous star ratingxiv. For example, a three-star television will use 20 per cent less energy than a two-star televisionxiv.
Refrigerators and freezers
These two appliances consume more power than all other household appliances, accounting for 14 per cent of an average household energy billvii,xv. Each additional energy star represents a decrease of 23 per cent in energy usage from the previous star ratingxvi. For example, a fridge and freezer that has a rating of three stars is 23 per cent more efficient than those that have a rating of two stars. You can also reduce your energy consumption by making sure the fridge and freezer door closes and seals properlyxv.
Heating and cooling can represent over a third of an average household's energy usexvii. Adjusting the temperature 1oC higher for heating or 1oC lower for cooling can add 10 per cent to the running costs of a standard air conditionerxvii. Air conditioner energy efficiency is measured differently to other appliances. Cooling is measured using the energy efficiency ratio (EER) while heating uses the coefficient of performance (COP)xviii. Both measures take into account energy used while running and on standby powerxviii. For heating and cooling, one star is equal to 2.75 EER or COP with each extra star representing an increase of 0.5xviii.
You can also improve the energy efficiency by closing off rooms that aren't being used, installing insulation and double glazing your windowsxvii,xviii.
Cooktops and Ovens
Cooktops and ovens currently don't have energy ratings. Energy ratings haven't been considered practical since the current testing standards don't provide an easy comparison of energy efficiency between different cooktops and ovensxix.
Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to minimise your cooking appliances' energy consumption. For cooktops, gas models are generally more efficient, less expensive to run and produce less than half the greenhouse gases of conventional electric modelsxx. For ovens, choosing features such as triple glazing and good quality insulation can reduce your energy consumptionxxi.
Next time you are choosing an appliance for the home, consider its efficiency by checking its energy and water rating label. An efficient appliance is not only environmentally friendly but can also mean huge savings in electricity and water bills.
Looking after your home doesn't just mean buying what's best for it; it also means protecting yourself from financial loss in the event of damage or theft. Allianz Home and Contents Insurance can provide cover for your home including appliances.