Highly energy efficient appliances make a difference

Choosing the most energy efficient products saves money — but more importantly, it reduces environmental impact.

But aren’t appliances getting more energy efficient anyway?

It is true that technological advances have made electrical and electronic goods more energy efficient over time.

For example, a fridge-freezer bought in 2011 will consume an average of 49% less energy than one available in 1990 and a chest freezer will use a remarkable 65% less energy. For washing machines, energy efficiency has improved by an average of 31%, while dishwashers for sale today use on average 38% less energy than 1990 models. [1]

Gradual technological change does make a difference – but the change is not fast or wide-spread enough to keep up with the overall increase in energy demand. Energy-saving innovations can be slow to be deployed across all models manufacturers put on the market – often only high-end models benefit from the best available technology.

The difference in energy consumption between an ‘average’ and a highly energy efficient product can be significant.

Saving money whilst being kind to the planet

All of this has cost implications for consumers. A recent study of washing machines available on the European market found that, over the long term, high-end machines cost users roughly 12 Euro cents per washing cycle, while low-end machines cost 27 Euro cents per cycle.

This is because lowest-cost models are not only less energy efficient than high-end ones, but they are also built to last for only 2,000 wash cycles – only a fifth of the 10,000 washes a more expensive model is expected to complete over its lifetime. [2]

The same report concluded that in total (including the purchasing cost), it would cost an average household less to use one high-end machine over a 20-year period than to use a series of low-end machines to do the same number of washes over the same period. [3]

So while the initial purchasing cost may be higher, choosing a highly energy efficient model will work out cheaper in the long run.

The feel good factor doesn’t stop with the money saving. High-end models also have a much lower environmental impact over their lifetime than low-cost machines. Assuming similar materials and manufacturing processes being used, replacing five 2,000 cycle machines with one 10,000 cycle machine saves almost 180kg of steel in production and more than 2.5 tonnes of CO2e during manufacture and use. [4]