A guide to understanding the energy ratings on your electrical items

The Australian government’s Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) program was introduced to help consumers choose appliances which are energy efficient, save money in electrical costs and which reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

They created a rating system of stars which you’ve probably noticed on the front of new appliances. The more stars, the more efficient your appliance and the more money you’ll save in energy use.

All your major appliances such as air conditioners, fridges, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers must all be labelled with an energy rating.

What the stars mean

The most obvious part of the label is the star banner at the top of products. This shows how efficient the product is and most new products will have a star rating of between 3 and 6. As energy efficient designs improve, the rating has expanded to a maximum of 10 stars, so sometimes you’ll see two rows of stars at the top.

The star ratings let you compare the efficiency of different models and choose the one that best suits your needs.

What the number means

The energy rating labels are an easy indication to see how much the appliance uses. The more starts the better the energy rating which means the appliance uses less power and will cost less to run.

Comparing appliances

How do you know which model to choose?

First make sure you’re comparing products of the same capacity if you want real data. Comparing the energy usage of a family size washing machine with a smaller unit may not give you an accurate comparison.

To choose the most energy efficient appliance, look for the one with a high number of stars and a low number for energy consumption.

How do I know what an appliance costs to run?

Over at the Energy Rating website you’ll find an energy rating calculator which will help you work out the energy consumption and running costs for a range of appliances.

Choose the type of appliance, then select the star level and click on the attributes of the model. The calculator will show you how much energy it uses each year and the running cost over 12 months and 10 years.

You can work out a rough estimate yourself if you know the cost you’re paying per kilowatt of electricity. Multiply that by the number on the label and you’ll have a good idea of the total running cost per year.

Before you buy…

Compare energy efficiency and running costs with the Energy Rating Label before you buy your next major appliance. It only takes a few minutes to check the label and make a comparison but it could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of appliance usage.

Want to know more? Take a look at this video.

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