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Energy Efficient Appliances: Buying Guide

Energy Efficient Appliances

Few of us could function without a fridge or washing machine, and that Sunday roast won’t cook itself – but there are still ways of cutting back how much of your energy bills go towards running appliances such as fridge freezers, tumble dryers, washing machines and tumble dryers.

Energy Efficient AppliancesEnergy Efficient Appliances

Energy Efficient Appliances

The running costs of your household appliances can add up to more than the initial purchase price and will impact on your electricity bill for years to come. Considering energy use in addition to purchase price and product features will save you money and energy as well as reduce greenhouse gas over time. A lot of new appliances and electronic equipment have energy rating labels to help you with this.

Remember that buying products with energy efficiency in mind is the first step, but using appliances efficiently is just as important.

1. the right product

Before buying any appliance, think about:

  • whether you really need it or if there are other, less costly, ways to do the same thing
  • what it will cost to run the appliance
  • how you will dispose of the appliance at the end of its life.

When you buy, remember to:

  • Buy the right size appliance for your needs so you don’t end up paying for electricity that you don’t need.
  • Use the Energy Rating Label on the product where available. The more stars the more efficient the appliance. You can use the website to find and compare appliances.
  • Check the water efficiency of products if you are buying a washing machine or dishwasher. The more stars, the more efficient the product. Look for a model with economy cycles.
  • Consider alternatives to electric-powered appliances such as gas-fired or heat-pump clothes dryers.

2. Choose energy-efficient appliances

Televisions (TVs) and set-top boxes

Choosing the most efficient electronic equipment will reduce your energy use.

  • Use the Energy Rating website to compare different television models.
  • An LCD TV is generally cheaper to run than a plasma TV.
  • Use the Energy Rating website to compare different set-top boxes.


Older dishwashers do not compare favourably with hand washing so you may wish to consider buying a more up-to-date water and energy-efficient model to save energy and money. When choosing a new dishwasher:

  • Use the Energy Rating website to compare different dishwasher models.
  • Use the WELS water rating website to compare the water efficiency of dishwashers.
  • Look for a model with a good range of programs, including economy options. This will let you match the dishwasher’s performance to your requirements.
  • Choose the correct size. Older dishwashers and smaller models that take less than 12-14 place settings tend to use more water and energy. It may make more sense to buy a full-sized model (12–14 place settings) and fill it once a day.

Fridges and freezers

Fridges and freezers, particularly older models, use more power than any other appliance in most Australian homes.

  • If you need a new refrigerator, take the opportunity to upgrade to a more efficient model. Use the Energy Rating website to compare different fridges and freezers.
  • Ensure it is the right size for your needs – too big and you will be cooling empty shelves, too small and won’t fit all your food in and you may end up buying a second fridge which will result in higher overall energy costs.
  • Measure the space where your fridge will sit before buying and make sure that the model you choose will have enough room for ventilation around the sides and top.

Washing machines

Different models of washing machines can vary greatly in energy use, water use, and operating costs. Clothes washing machines, especially older models, can use a lot of water and energy.

Think about the following points when buying a new washing machine:

  • Use the Energy Rating website to compare different clothes washing machine models.
  • Use the WELS water rating website to compare the water efficiency of washing machines.
  • Buy a front loader if you can. Front loaders are usually more water and energy efficient (up to 60 percent) and energy efficient than top-loaders and use less detergent. There are some more efficient top-loaders available.
  • Choose a size that matches your needs. You might not always need to do large washes, so look for a model that can wash both smaller and larger loads.
  • Look for a model that has separate hot and cold water connections. If you have an electric storage hot water system, you may want to look for a washing machine that has the option to use a cold water connection and internal water heater as a more efficient way to heat water for your wash. If you have solar hot water installed a model which has a separate hot water connection will be most efficient.
  • Look for a model with a cold water cycle and wash with cold water whenever possible.
  • Look for a model that has an economy cycle, auto load sensing, and high spin speed to help prevent unnecessary energy and water use.

Read how to minimise your laundry costs

Clothes dryers

Clothes dryers use a lot of energy. A standard electric clothes dryer can add 3 kilograms of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere for each load of washing.

If you are buying a new clothes dryer:

  • Use the Energy Rating website to compare different clothes dryers.
  • See if you can get a gas-fired or heat-pump model. They are more expensive to buy and install but cheaper to run.


3. Buying second hand

If you are considering buying second-hand, remember that older appliances are generally less energy efficient than new ones and may have faults that need to be repaired. You may need to have them checked by a qualified repairer.

New appliances with the same energy Star Rating as older appliances will generally use less energy and cost less to run. The standards for the Star Rating system have been raised in recent years as improvements to energy efficiency are made.


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