Appliances can account for around 30% of home energy use, so choosing the most energy-efficient appliance can bring big savings. The Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) Program focuses on a range of products to increase their energy efficiency, save money on bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- washing machines
- clothes dryers
- computer monitors
- air conditioners
- fridges and freezers
Choose energy-efficient appliances
When choosing an appliance, consider:
- the best size and power for your needs
- the cost of running the appliance compared to other models
- the most energy and water-efficient model
It’s worth paying extra for a more energy-efficient model as it will cost less to run.
Rebates may be available when buying more energy-efficient appliances like fridges and washing machines.
Although cheaper to buy, older appliances are less energy efficient and closer to the end of their life-cycle.
Use appliances efficiently
Many appliances continue to use energy even when switched off on the machine, because they’re in standby power mode. This can add up to 3% of a household’s energy use. Other than fridges and freezers or any critical medical equipment, it’s worth switching most appliances off at the wall.
Following the manufacturer’s instructions to keep appliances in good working order will help avoid expensive repair and replacement costs.
Disposal of used appliances
Fridges and freezers
Fridges and freezers account for 8% to 13% of household energy bills. See the Energy Rating website to compare the energy-efficiency of fridges and freezers.
Determine the size of fridge needed:
- 1-2 people, 250-380L
- 3-4 people, 350-530L
- 4 or more people, 440L +
Measure the space where the fridge will go and allow an extra 5cm for each side, as well as 10cm at the top and back for ventilation. If possible, position the fridge away from direct sunlight and ovens, heaters and dishwashers.
Set the fridge to between 3°C and 4°C and the freezer to between -15 and -18°C. Each degree lower uses 5% more energy. See Choice for advice on ideal fridge settings.
Today’s dishwashers use 25% less energy compared to those of 10 years ago. This is due, in part, to the introduction of MEPS and energy labelling.
Dishwashers with good drying performance use more power and are therefore less energy efficient. The best option is a machine with a high energy and water-efficiency rating.
Dishwashers are rated separately for energy and water-efficiency:
- See the Energy Rating website to compare the energy-efficiency of dishwashers.
- See the Water Rating website to compare the water-efficiency of dishwashers.
- bio-mode for enzyme-based detergents
- self-cleaning filters
- anti-flood devices
- automatic blockage detection
- quiet running mode
- bottle-cleaning jets
Washing machines have various energy and water-saving functions. Combination washer/dryer machines are also available.
Front-loaders are generally more expensive, but use less energy, water and detergent.
Top-loaders are generally cheaper to buy and have shorter wash cycles, but can be harsher on clothes.
Choice has more information on how to buy the best washing machine.
Energy and water ratings
Washing machines are rated separately for energy and water-efficiency:
- See the Energy Rating website to compare the energy-efficiency of washing machines.
- See the Water Rating website to compare the water-efficiency of washing machines.
Wash in cold water
Heating water is by far the biggest user of energy when washing fabric. Washing in cold water saves energy and money, but be aware that some machines need both hot and cold water to function properly.
Dissolving powder detergent before adding it to the washer will improve its performance in cold water.
Solar hot water
Using solar heated water for warm-to-hot washes can save a considerable amount on bills. However, to use solar for washing, the machine needs a hot water connection.
For dual-connection models, many manufacturers recommend a lower maximum temperature than most hot water systems deliver – particularly solar hot water systems.
Check that the hot water supply temperature to your house does not exceed manufacturer’s recommendations. Some front-loaders are not fitted with dual hot and cold water connection.
Wash a full load
Machines often use the same amount of energy and water to wash a full load as a partial load, unless the machine has a load sensor or a half-load setting.
Clothes dryers vary in energy use. In dry areas of the country a clothes dryer may not be needed. Although the machines are convenient, it’s free to dry clothes on the line or an indoor rack.
See the Energy Rating website to compare the energy-efficiency of clothes dryers.
Clothes dryer types
The most basic and common type in use. They’re cheap to buy, but expensive to run. They extract the moisture from the clothes into the laundry room, raising the humidity. Condensation can also form on the laundry walls, so good ventilation (an open window) is needed when running vented dryers.
Vented dryers can be fitted with a hose to extract the hot air outside. Autosensing types that switch off when the clothes are dry, rather than running on a timer, are cheaper to run. Most clothes dryers are electric, so are ideal to use with a solar supply source.
These models extract moisture from the clothes but collect it in a reservoir or drain it off. This prevents humidity and condensation in the laundry, but expels hot air into the room. Condensers are more expensive to buy than vented models.
Heat pump condenser
These dry clothes using the same principles as an air conditioner. They are expensive to buy but highly efficient and cheap to run. The energy they use is captured and reused in the drying cycle.
These are available but electrical models are preferable for efficiency, solar compatibility and sustainability.
Home entertainment products, computers and other technology
Australian households often have a variety of home entertainment and technology products. Only the most common and high-energy use products are subject to minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) and/or the Energy Rating Label, as indicated below.
- TVs (MEPS and Energy Rating Label)
- computers (MEPS)
- computer monitors (MEPS and Energy Rating Label)
- digital TV set top boxes (for standard and high definition broadcast on free-to-air, subscription cable and satellite digital platforms (MEPS))
Standby power mode
Many plugged-in appliances continue to use energy even when switched off on the machine, because they’re in standby mode. This can add up to 3% or more of a household’s energy use.
Appliances Your Home
Labelling Energy Rating
Energy Rating Label video Energy Rating
Choose water-efficient products Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme
Compare water-efficient products Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme
Renting appliances Australian Securities & Investments Commission