How to choose an energy-efficient appliance

The price tag doesn’t tell the whole story when weighing up the cost of your new television, refrigerator or washing machine. If you take into account that all the appliances you have at home impact around 30% of your total energy bills, looking at running costs as a "second price tag" and choosing products accordingly will save you a considerable amount of energy and money over time.

Consider the ‘real’ price

Many appliances with a less expensive purchase price may end up costing you far more in energy costs over the lifetime of the product.

Choose appliances and technologies that suit your needs and that use the lowest number of watts or megajoules, and avoid the lure of upgrading to bigger products or those with more features you may never use. These can lock you in to costs for years to come.

Compare energy rating labels

Compare the Energy Rating Label found on appliances including televisions, computer monitors, dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, freezers and clothes dryers and go for the product with the highest number of stars. Some products, like dishwashers or washing machines, will also have a rating for water use, which you should also factor into your decision.

To make this easy there’s an Energy Rating App for all types of phones, or go to the Energy Rating website and compare the efficiency of appliances. There is also a Voluntary Labeling Program for pool pumps—the more stars, the less energy the product will use.

Gas appliances

Gas appliances are not regulated for energy efficiency in Australia. Labels that appear on some appliances (space heaters, ducted heating and water heaters) are part of an industry-led voluntary Gas Energy Rating Label not monitored by government.

Appliances without labels

For products without energy ratings, you can find out how much energy they use and compare this with a product of a similar size or capacity and which manufacturers include energy saving features in their products.

How to check the usage on your existing appliances

For appliances and technology you already have at home, you may want to identify which ones are the biggest energy users by using a simple calculation to estimate the running costs and then consider how you save money by using them more efficiently.

How you install and operate your appliances counts

Install your appliance so it runs efficiently and at optimum levels. For example, fridges should not be placed next to ovens or warm spots as they'll need to work harder to stay cool.

Proper use and maintenance is also important. Allow heated food to cool before placing it in the fridge (that way the fridge uses less energy to cool it) and repair seals on your fridge door so cold air doesn't leak out.

On all appliances, read the instructions before you install them to ensure you position and use them correctly from the start—this can save you time and energy.

Use thermostat controls to minimise energy use and still achieve home comfort. Spend some time reading the manual so you know how to turn on these features if they're not the default setting.

Operate appliances for the shortest amount of time possible and turn them off at the wall when you're not in use. This includes turning off computers, screens and other office and home entertainment products such as printers and speakers (with the exception of appliances like refrigerators and some medical equipment which needs to stay on all the time).

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