Help & advice: Buying guide to energy-efficient appliances
Buying guide to energy-efficient appliances
It's not just the price in the shop. The running costs of an appliance over its lifetime is also really important. For instance, the energy it uses could cost many times more than the purchase price so it pays to buy an energy-efficient machine. And don't worry - saving energy doesn't mean scrimping on performance!
The amount of energy an appliance uses can vary hugely between different models, types and brands. To make it easier for you to choose energy-efficient machines, all products are tagged with the European Union (EU) Energy Label.
The contents of the label will be specific to the appliance type but you should find these details on it:
Appliances are rated from A to G. A appliances are the most efficient and G the least (though refrigeration products go up to A++). Ratings are also colour-coded with red, amber and green, so it's easy to see at a glance an appliance's energy consumption. A rated appliances often cost a bit more but can use just half the electricity of a G rated model.
The amount of electricity an appliance uses is measured in kilowatt hours a year (kWh/year) for refrigeration products or kilowatt hours a cycle (kWh/cycle) for washing machines and other products.
You can work out the average annual running cost, and any savings, like this:
Average annual running cost = your kWh consumption cost multiplied by your average unit price of electricity
Actual savings depend on how much you use the appliance and how much you pay for your electricity.
Energy ratings for washing machines and dishwashers
Laundry and dishwashing labels also have information on washing, spin and/or drying performance. The A to G indicators here are similar to the main energy-efficient ratings. They're based on standard industry tests and the test cycle used will appear on the label. An A rating is the best.
Water consumption, capacity and other information
Depending on the product, you'll get a range of information to help you choose what's right for you. If you're on a water meter, for example, you might want to find a washing machine that uses less water...
In the rating system, a lower number means the appliance makes less noise - especially handy to know when you're choosing a washing machine or dishwasher. Manufacturers aren't obliged to put this information on the label, but it should be in their product brochure.
This is an additional logo and guarantee that the appliance saves energy and is awarded by the Energy Saving Trust. To be awarded the logo, products have to meet strict criteria on energy efficiency. A fridge has to get an A+ (more energy-efficient than A rated products) and washing machines have to earn a AAA - A for energy, A for wash quality and A for spin performance. The standards are set by an independent panel and reviewed annually.
- When replacing appliances choose an energy-efficient model. An energy-efficient dishwasher, for example, cuts your energy usage by almost half compared to a 'non-efficient' washer.
- Replace traditional light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs - this can save up to £100 over the lifetime of the bulb.
- Clean clothes at 30oC rather than 60oC and reduce your washing machine's energy usage by up to 40%.
- Defrost fridges and freezers regularly and they'll run more efficiently.
- Wait until you have a full load before using the washing machine or dishwasher. Or select the half-load setting instead.
- Only boil as much water as you need when making a cuppa.
- Save the tumble dryer for wet weekends.
- Always turn appliances off completely - even in stand-by mode they use electricity.
- Always turn off lights on leaving a room - in the UK we waste £140 million a year by leaving lights on unnecessarily!
- Don't leave appliances on charge when they don't need it.