Energy Efficient Appliances Buyers Guide
Let’s face it, none of us would say no to saving a little money right now. Buying energy efficient appliances is a great way to do it. Not only are you saving on your gas and electricity bills, you can rest easy knowing you’re doing your bit to reduce carbon emissions and global warming.
Unfortunately, EU energy efficiency ratings aren’t always easy to understand, and even if you have an efficient appliance, half the trick is knowing the best way to use it. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to answer all your energy efficiency questions.
What do All The Letters Mean?
All appliances, light bulbs and cars made after 1992 are required to have an EU energy efficiency label.
This provides information to customers so they can make an informed choice when buying a washing machine, cooker or other product. Each appliance is given a rating in the form of a letter on its label, which is like the grade on an exam. G means the item is very inefficient and costs a lot to run, while A ratings (or higher) represent very efficient products.
The scale originally ran from A to G, but some modern appliances are so efficient, the A rating wasn’t good enough anymore. That’s why you’ll see certain products with A+, A++ or A+++ energy ratings.
Some manufacturers even make up their own, unofficial ratings to try to get across how efficient their products are.
So if I Buy an ‘A Rated’ Appliance I Will Save Money?
Reports show that upgrading an old appliance to an energy efficient version could save you around £20 to £40 a year on your energy bills (although the actual amount will vary).
It’s unlikely efficiency will be the only factor in your decision when buying a new fridge or dishwasher, but it’s certainly something to bear in mind.
Are All ‘A Rated’ Appliances the Same?
Unfortunately, no; within the letter bands there are variations between appliances. However, it’s fairly easy to compare different models as they have the energy consumption given on the label. This is given in kWh per year, and gives an estimate of the amount of energy the appliance will use. If you know how much you pay for your electricity, you can even work out how much it will cost to run.
Does Size Matter?
A big factor in the energy usage of an appliance is its size.
Energy ratings compare products of similar size, so an A rated undercounter fridge won’t necessarily be the same as a large American style version. Generally, smaller appliances are more efficient.
This is especially true if you have a large appliance you aren’t using effectively. Having a huge fridge freezer that’s half empty or washing too few clothes in a washing machine with a large drum means you’re wasting energy. You should choose an appliance that’s the right size for your needs.
If you know how much you pay for your electricity, you can even work out how much the appliance will cost to run.
How Can I Save Money Doing Laundry?
Even if you buy a highly efficient washing machine, it’s important to use its features effectively to make the most of your money.
Most machines have an eco wash cycle these days, and this can save you water, energy and money. These programmes are usually recommended for lightly soiled loads, and you might have to wash less clothes at a time, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions.
You can also wash your clothes at lower temperatures and spin them well before putting them in the tumble dryer. Keeping your appliances clean will help, too – removing the lint from the filter in your dryer is a must.
What are Wash Performance and Spin Ratings on Washing Machines?
These aren’t actually to do with efficiency as such, but can also be found on EU energy labels.
Each washing machine has a rating for how well it washes and spins clothes, again using an A to G system. If the machine gets poor results your clothes might not be as clean and dry as you’d like the first time round. In extreme cases this could mean you have to wash things twice – obviously not good in terms of efficiency.
Most machines have an eco wash cycle these days, and this can save you water, energy and money.
What’s the Most Efficient Way to Use my Fridge Freezer?
Making sure your refrigerator, freezer or fridge freezer is full is essential to keep it working effectively.
If you have a large fridge, buying food just to fill it up isn’t cost effective. Instead, you can plug gaps with newspaper stuffed into a plastic bag. It’s also important to make sure you make use of the ‘fast freeze’ function when putting fresh bread and other goods in, and wait until things are completely cool before adding them.
The location of the fridge is also important; if you place it next to a heater or radiator (or even the cooker) it will have to work harder to keep your food cold.
How Can I use my Dishwasher Efficiently?
Dishwashers are another appliance that are at their most efficient when they’re full.
If you don’t have enough crockery every day for a full load, you might want to only run the machine a few times a week. Learning to load it to fit as much in as possible will also help.
You should also use the eco cycle as much as possible and avoid the quick program, which could increase energy consumption. There have also been suggestions that not bothering to rinse dishes before they go into the machine and skipping the drying part of the cycle can help save energy.
Can I Save Money When Cooking?
It’s possible to save energy when cooking, whether you are using an oven or the hob.
You can usually pop the food into the oven before it’s fully up to temperature, and turn it off before the timer rings, to save a little energy. Keeping the door closed as much as possible will also help.
When cooking on the hob it’s important to use the smallest ring, lowest heat and least amount of water possible to do what you want to do. Use a lid to help retain the heat.
If your vegetables are boiling too furiously, you can simply turn them down rather than removing the lid.
Microwaves are often more efficient than regular gas and electric cookers, so use one where possible to cut your bills. Similarly, you should use a kettle rather than the hob to boil water, and a toaster rather than the grill to make toast.
When cooking on the hob it’s important to use the smallest ring, lowest heat and least amount of water possible.