How to choose the best energy-efficient household appliances

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Going green is very on-trend at the moment, with many of us doing all we can to minimise our plastic use and the size of our eco-footprints. However, when it comes to appliances, most of us would rather save money than save the planet. New research from found that 41 per cent of us don’t really care about energy ratings when hitting the shops for new appliances.

Rather, it seems the price tag is more important to Aussies – and understandably so. With the rising cost of living, it’s hard to justify spending big on an energy-efficient appliance, when you could get a cheaper version that does the same thing. However, investing in energy-efficient appliances can actually save you money in the long run because they can drastically reduce the size of your electricity bill.

Most people’s biggest concern is that they won’t be able to afford their electricity, and 34 per cent of us have cut down on our energy usage to deal with these big bills. Purchasing appliances that use less energy is a great way to simultaneously minimise your energy bill and be kinder to the environment.

Here are some tips to help you choose the most energy-efficient appliances for your household.

Check the energy rating label

To make it easier to sort the energy-saving appliances from the energy guzzlers, the government puts an Energy Rating Label on all new appliances. This label gives all appliances a rating out of six stars. The more stars, the more energy efficient the appliance is (and the more you’ll save on your electricity bill).

This label will also tell you how much energy an appliance uses each year in kilowatt hours (kWh). The lower this number is, the less energy the appliance uses. Remember to compare the Energy Rating Label of appliances that are a similar size, otherwise you’ll end up comparing apples with oranges, which could be a costly mistake!

This label is very helpful when deciding which appliance best meets your needs and budget, however, ways to save don’t stop there. Below, we’ve also listed some factors to think about before you purchase any major household appliance.


Fridges & freezers

  • Pick a size that suits your needs. Remember, the bigger it is, the more electricity your fridge will use!
  • Don’t buy fancy extras (such as a water/ice dispenser on the fridge door) unless you really need them. These features increase the energy consumption of your appliance.
  • Try to find a fridge with a door alarm to avoid accidentally leaving the fridge open.
  • Make sure there is enough space between your fridge and the surrounding walls to allow air to ventilate freely, and make sure to clean out your fridge’s vacuum coils at least once a year to minimise how hard you appliance has to work to maintain a cool and consistent temperature.
  • Place your fridge somewhere that is out of direct sunlight and not near any heat-generating appliances, such as stoves and ovens, so that its temperature can be maintained and it won’t have to work too hard to cool down.

18 Smith Street, Manly, NSW

Air conditioners

  • Try to choose an air conditioner with features such as fans and evaporative coolers, as these are more energy efficient.
  • Make sure you regularly clean the filters, coils and fins in your air conditioner to reduce how hard it has to work. This will save you electricity!
  • If you only need to cool one room in your house (the living room/kitchen) opt for a smaller appliance that uses less power.
  • Remember to turn your air conditioner off when you’re not home, so it’s not unnecessarily draining power. If you want to get really smart, you can use smart air conditioners and apps such as IFTTT to turn your AC on as you approach your home.
  • Try to cool your home naturally instead. Keep the blinds closed, or open up the windows to let a breeze in.

7 Heaton Avenue, Elwood, VIC

Washers & dryers

  • Opt for a front load washer if you can. This should be a no-brainer as they are generally much more efficient than top loaders, and better at cleaning too.
  • Think about the size of your household before buying. You don’t need a huge washing machine with additional features if you live alone.
  • Pick a washer with both hot and cold water connections and use a cold wash as often as possible. Cold washes can reduce the cost of running a washing machine by 80 per cent!
  • Choose a washer with a fast spin speed to minimise how long each wash takes. Though if you do use a fast speed, make sure to take the clothes out shortly after the wash finished to avoid extra ironing.
  • Choose a dryer with features such as moisture sensors and timers, so that your appliance isn’t operating for any longer than it needs to.

9 Moonlight Avenue, Highvale, QLD


  • When choosing a dishwasher, try to select one with energy-saving features such as light wash cycles and economy wash options. This means your dishwasher will only work as hard as the size of your load.
  • Look out for air-dry features that use circulation fans to dry your dishes, rather than heat-dry features, which will use much more electricity!
  • Remember, the bigger the dishwasher, the more energy it will use, so it’s important to select one suitable to your household’s needs. If you don’t use a lot of plates, keep an eye out for a model that also washes a half-load.

If you’re in the market for new appliances, don’t underestimate how much you can save long term by buying an energy-efficient appliance, even if it costs you more in the short term. Make sure you ask plenty of questions about the appliance before buying so that you pick one that meets your needs and saves both electricity and the environment.

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Graham Cooke
Graham Cooke is the Insights Editor at where he drives consumer-focused research, and appears regularly on Australian TV and radio discussing issues of consumer interest. He is a graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland and has over ten years of experience in analytics and writing.

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