How to buy energy efficient appliances

woman choosing a washing machine

Choosing eco-friendly home appliances pays a double dividend. As well as doing something for the planet, you are often doing something to cut down on utility bills.

CHOICE has found that there is an almost $1000 difference in the 10-year running costs between the least and most efficient models. Some washing machines use almost four times as much water per cycle as others.

Do you need it?

Your first step is to carefully consider if you even need the appliance.

Fairy floss makers, dehydrators, benchtop pizza oven, vacuum sealers, yoghurt makers … they all serve a purpose, but do you need it? I mean, does anyone really, truly need a mini waffle maker

Only buy appliances you think will reward you with some real value. If you are having second thoughts, see if you can borrow a friend or family members’ similar product. You may find what you thought was your latest must-have product is cumbersome, unworkable, or even just plain hard to store.

I have a stand mixer I regret buying. I simply do not do enough baking to justify its (considerable) price. It’s heavy, takes up a lot of space and is fiddly to clean. I wish I had practised a bit first. I would have swiftly worked out how impractical it would be in my kitchen and saved myself several hundred dollars in the process. I can almost always use the hand-held beaters instead.

So, you’ve convinced yourself you need a new appliance, or your previous one just conked out. What are your next steps?

Size matters

Choosing the right-sized appliance can make a big difference in your bills. You may have previously needed a family friendly sized washing machine, oven or fridge, but if your household is shrinking, so should your appliances.

Fortunately, these days there are plenty of options out there, so choose wisely.

But don’t go too far the other way. For example, buying a smaller dishwasher may prove inefficient in the long term if you must run it more often because it fills up faster.

Reach for the stars

Australia has an energy efficiency star rating system that takes a lot of the guesswork out of buying an energy efficient product.

You’ll probably recognise the distinctive star sticker on any new appliance. It’s a simple system. The more stars, the more energy efficient it is.

However, the website also compares running costs for many popular brands to make your choice simpler.

For a deep dive, CHOICE also reviews products against other parameters such as how much power an appliance uses on standby or how much power an appliance uses on each optional setting.

Say goodbye to gas

We are gradually becoming more aware of the dangers of emissions from gas appliances. If you want to go green, think about replacing your gas appliances with electric alternatives. There are no gas household appliances that can’t be replaced by an electric appliance. 

Does the energy rating influence your choice when buying appliances? How old is your oldest appliance? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Also read: Eight tips to extend the life of your washing machine

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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