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How to choose and use energy efficient appliances

When it comes to energy consumption in your home, appliances certainly can take their fair share of the pie, accounting for a quarter of your home energy use.

Choosing appliances based on energy efficiency and taking simple steps to use appliances more efficiently, will make for a more sustainable home. They can also reduce your energy bills, saving you precious money – a real win.

Thankfully, modern Australian appliances are fit with an energy efficiency rating, making our job easier when it comes to selecting a more sustainable option. From the humble microwave, to the mighty fridge and freezer, learn more about energy ratings, and how to choose the most energy 

Understanding energy ratings

There are three key things to look for when choosing energy efficient appliances. 

  1. The size and power supply to suit your home’s requirements
  2. The cost to run the appliance in comparison to other models
  3. The most energy efficient model

These days, choosing energy efficient appliances is made easier thanks to the energy star rating system – and it’s all on the label. Each label lists information about how much energy (kWh) the appliance will likely use in a year, along with a star rating. Simply put, the more stars on the label, the more energy efficient the appliance, and the more money you’ll save on energy bills. You can find this simple information on appliances including fridges, dishwashers, microwaves, and freezers. 

Before you buy an appliance, you can use the star rating information to consider how much it will cost your family to run a model each year, and whether it will be better for you to buy a more energy efficient model at the outset, to save on running costs over the next decade.

Alongside the star rating, there are some other things you can consider when choosing your appliances and using them more efficiently.

Fridge and freezer

How to choose an energy efficient model

  • A fridge is one of the biggest energy zappers in the home, so it’s a good one to get right. Compare fridge and freezer models through this energy rating calculator.
  • Make sure you pick a fridge and freezer with a capacity that suits the needs of your family. 
  • Consider fridge and freezer models with door alarms and automatic defrost to save more energy. 

How to run your fridge or freezer sustainably 

  • Placement is important – keep your fridge and freezer away from direct sunlight and hot ovens, as they’ll need to work harder to stay cold. 
  • ⁠⁠In terms of temperature, set the fridge between 3°C and 4°C and the freezer between -15°C and -18°C. Lower temperatures than these will increase your electricity consumption and bills. 
  • ⁠Plan ahead and try not to keep the fridge and freezer doors open for too long, as this wastes energy. 

Oven and stove top

How to choose an energy efficient model

  • An energy efficient stove top, like an electric induction stove, uses electromagnetic technology to directly heat the pot or pan, rather than wasting energy heating the cooking surface first. This saves twice as much energy as less energy efficient gas or electric models.
  • When choosing an oven, look for fan forced models that evenly circulates air, cooking the food more quickly than traditional models. 
  • Triple glazed oven doors will also help with insulation.  

How to use your oven and stove top sustainably

  • Use pots and pans on the stove top that cover the entire hotplate, so energy isn’t wasted.
  • Keep the oven door closed during cooking, and turn the oven off before you remove your food. This will save energy from escaping, and finish cooking the food with residual energy.
  • Replace damaged oven door seals and hinges to ensure energy isn’t escaping and being wasted.


How to choose an energy efficient model 

  • Choose an energy efficient dishwasher. You can compare models on the energy rating calculator.
  • You can also consider the star water rating for your dishwasher, to improve water efficiency.
  • Consider a dishwasher model with energy saving functionality such as eco wash or a delay start.

How to use your dishwasher sustainably

  • Only run the dishwasher once it is full, as this saves both energy and water. 
  • Choose high quality detergent and scrape those plates clean before loading them into the dishwasher – this will make it easier for the machine to keep your plates sparkling clean.
  • Select a lower temperature and consider using the half load setting to save on energy consumption.


How to choose an energy efficient model 

  • Choose an energy efficient model that meets the needs of your family and steer clear from any bells and whistles functionality that your family simply won’t use. 
  • Ditch the microwave clock – a clock consumes more energy and can be unnecessary. 

How to use your microwave sustainably

  • Consider using your microwave to cook small amounts of food instead of the stove top, as microwaves are more energy efficient than stove tops and ovens.
  • Switch the microwave off at the powerpoint when you’re not using it. 
  • If your microwave has done its dash, you can recycle it to save on landfill. Take a look at Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou to find a local recycling centre.

The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs and, where appropriate, seek professional advice.