How to choose energy efficient appliances

Gadgets, technology and appliances exist to make our life more convenient - but have you ever put much thought into how much energy they can consume? When you next take a look over your utility bill, put some thought into how you could cut down on the final charge. By replacing, updating or using your appliances more wisely, you can put a big dent in what electricity suppliers charge you. Here are a few key areas in your home where you can make these changes.

The living room 

This is an area that you and your family probably spend a lot of time in. Whether you're watching TV, checking your emails on the home computer or listening to music, the technology you use in everyday life can make up a large proportion of your energy bill. Adults spent an average of 13 hours a week watching TV between 2011-12 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It's little wonder, then, that the television accounts for 19 per cent of the energy your appliances and equipment use, according to the Department of Industry and Science.

You can make some small changes. Be sure to turn the TV off at the wall, rather than leaving it on standby. Or try going a couple of nights a week without watching. If it's time to replace your current model, consider an energy-efficient version. These are usually higher quality and may be a bit more expensive at the outset, but they could save you a large amount and even give you a better viewing experience. For example, a six-star rated TV could save you around $860 over a 10-year period a year. Remember: The bigger the screen, the more energy it will use. 

The kitchen

If your fridge or freezer is looking a little tired, it's likely consuming a lot of energy as well. In fact, refrigerators bought today are far more efficient than the one you purchased 15 years ago - they use around 40 per cent less electricity than those purchased in the early 1990s, according to the Department of Industry and Science.

Make sure your fridge is the right size to meet your family's needs. It should be just full - too small and you'll end up with a second fridge, but too big and you'll waste power cooling empty space. 

Switching to an electricity-saving model could make a big difference in your utility bills. The Energy Star Rating is the best way to figure out which models will save you the most money. The more stars an appliance has, the better it will be for your budget.

The laundry 

While it's not somewhere you'll spend a lot of time, the laundry more than makes up for it in energy use. Clothes dryers and washing machines both use around 2 per cent each of your home's appliance and equipment costs, but with a little know-how and awareness, you can trim the running costs. Choose machines that do cold-wash cycles. According to the Victorian government, putting your clothes through a cold wash could save up to 80 per cent in running costs.

Like a fridge, it's important that your washing machine is the right size. Even if your washer is energy-efficient, a large machine will probably have a lot more half-full cycles, which wastes both water and electricity. 

Once you've chosen the the right appliances, it might be a good time to compare electricity use before and after you made the changes. If the difference isn't as high as you'd hoped, it could be that your electricity provider is no longer a good fit. Fortunately, by handing over your bills and answering a few simple questions about your energy use, the experts at Make It Cheaper can find you a better deal. 

Posted by Nikki Wilson-Everett