Appliances

Appliances can account for around 30% of home energy use, so choosing the most energy-efficient products 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.

Energy-rated appliances

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.

Buying second-hand

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

Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou and TechCollect list locations to drop off unwanted products. This keeps toxic waste out of landfill while enabling recovery of valuable materials.

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.

Dishwashers

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:

Dishwasher types

  • stand-alone
  • built-in
  • integrated
  • dish-drawer

Dishwasher features

  • bio-mode for enzyme-based detergents
  • self-cleaning filters
  • anti-flood devices
  • automatic blockage detection
  • quiet running mode
  • bottle-cleaning jets

Washing machines

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.

See detailed pros and cons at Choice.

Energy and water ratings

Washing machines are rated separately for energy and water-efficiency:

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

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 different clothes dryers.

Clothes dryer types

Vented

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.

Condenser

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.

Gas-powered

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.

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.

More information

Appliances Your Home

Labelling Energy Rating

Energy Rating Label video Energy Rating

For Consumers Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme

Water-efficient products Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme

Renting appliances Australian Securities & Investments Commission