How do I understand energy efficiency ratings?

Choose efficient appliances for your home 171 79946 0 14100868 300

When you head into a store to buy a brand new appliance, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is how efficient you want your device to be.

After all, with electricity prices on the rise, you'll need to make sure you're making cutbacks wherever possible.

Energy ratings are in place to make it easier for you to compare electricity consumption and hopefully ensure you buy a product that won't have an adverse effect on your bills. Understanding the system is the first step towards a more efficient future in your home.

Energy rating labels

Energy labelling was introduced in 1986, where it was first rolled out in Victoria and New South Wales. However, it is now compulsory across all states and territories.

Various appliances are included under the energy rating labelling scheme, including everything from clothes dryers to dishwashers, freezers and refrigerators. The scheme is also available for both gas and electricity-operated products.

Each appliance is required to display a star rating of between one and 10 stars, the greater the number of stars, the more efficient you can expect the product to be.

One of the biggest advantages of the scheme is that you can compare appliances on a like-for-like basis - you don't have to perform your own calculations, the labels will already have done it for you.

However, bear in mind that you can't effectively use the scheme to compare appliances that aren't fundamentally the same. For example, measuring up a gas oven against an electric one isn't possible, so be careful not to create confusion.

Aside from the star rating, the label will also display information on comparative energy consumption. This is usually measured in kilowatt hours per year and gives you an estimate on how much energy you can expect to consume in your household.

Gas labelling

The gas labelling scheme is slightly different in that it's not mandatory for all manufacturers.

You will find the energy efficiency is displayed in megajoules per year but the same principle applies - the higher the star rating, the more efficient the appliance.

At present, the scheme covers gas ducted heaters, space heaters and water heaters and is led by the industry, but not regulated by the government.

There's still some way to go before the gas labelling scheme covers the same scope as the electricity scheme, but it can nevertheless prove useful when you're choosing new appliances.

Posted by Richard West