How energy-efficient appliances can save you energy and reduce your carbon emissions
Did you walk into an appliance store a couple of years back in search of a new fridge or washing machine, eyes swivelling straight to the energy star rating stickers? Was this a priority in making your decision? Did a two-star rating get an instant ‘no’, while a five-star rating got your attention and clinched the sale? If so, congratulations, you’re just one of the many householders who saved some $2.7 billion in energy in Australia in 2013 by purchasing energy-efficient appliances!
By studying the data in the latest Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Report (GEMS) review by the Department of Industry of the Australian Government’s Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) program, Sustainable Energy and Climate Researcher Alan Pears of RMIT University estimates that the value of energy saved in Australia in 2013 alone was around $3.2 billion, and $2.7 billion of this was saved by ordinary households rather than large industrial consumers.
The review revealed that, in 2013, the E3 program reduced Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by a massive 13.5 million tonnes, which means the effective cost of carbon emissions avoided is minus $118 per tonne. According to Pears, in an article published on The Conversation, “In other words, it saved money to cut emissions. Overall, the savings delivered by embracing efficient appliances were three times greater than the costs.”
Out with the old, in with the new
Since 1986 – when those star-spangled energy stickers first began appearing on new refrigerators –the E3 program has provided the information and incentive for us to replace worn out and inefficient appliances with better-performing ones. So we’re both saving ourselves money and happy knowing we’re doing our bit for the environment.
Importantly, the program also gave manufacturers a big push to improve the efficiency of their products. Between 1986 and 2000, for example, the average efficiency of new refrigerators on the Australian market improved by around 40 per cent, while dishwashers became some 23 per cent more efficient between 1993 and 2000.
Room for improvement
Pears’ own research suggests that, for most appliances, there is potential to improve efficiency by a further 30-60 per cent beyond the best available current performance. An example would be the increased use of “smart” technology, such as load-sensing motors in washing machines.
Replacing old, inefficient appliances offers big benefits. A faulty old refrigerator, for example, could be using up to eight times as much as a modern fridge. And the most efficient new ceiling fans on the market today use just a quarter of the energy of older models.
Stars in our eyes; money in our pockets and healthier outcomes
By replacing older appliances with the modern energy-efficient ones on the market, you could benefit from energy savings of 30 per cent up to a whopping 80 per cent.
This certainly bears thinking about it when you’re next confronted by the sea of whitegoods in a large home appliance store.
And there’s further good news for our economy, community and the environment (as well as you and your family). The E3 program review forecasts that by 2030, the program will be saving 34.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas.
Simply by ensuring your next shiny new household appliance has the highest possible star-rating (energy-efficiency), you’re also contributing to a very sizeable dent in the amount of Australian carbon emissions.