Everything you need to know about Energy Star Ratings

Couple shopping for a new fridge
Energy star ratings explained

Whether you make a habit of browsing the aisles of your local Harvey Norman, or you’re actually in the market for some new appliances for your new home or renovation, you may have noticed that Energy Star Ratings are kind of a big deal.

More than a nifty, star-studded sticker on your new appliance purchase, these ratings can actually save you some money. Want to know how? You’ve come to the right place. This is everything you need to know about Energy Star Ratings.

What is the Energy Star Rating system?

It may come as a surprise to learn that the Energy Rating labels have been donning the front of major household appliances for more than 30 years! They were developed as part of the Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) Program by the Australian and New Zealand government to improve the efficiency of appliances and lower emissions.

This is done by applying a number of mandatory and voluntary measures. The Energy Star Rating labels are one of those measures, which aims to inform you, as a consumer, how efficient an appliance is. This will help you make informed decisions about your appliances before you buy them. 

It also acts as a means to encourage manufacturers to produce more efficient products as demand increases for products that are cheaper to run and better for the environment. 

What appliances have Energy Star Ratings?

You’ve probably noticed the Energy Star Rating labels stuck to appliances. It’s actually mandatory to display these labels on the following appliances in store:

  • air conditioners
  • clothes washers and dryers
  • dishwashers
  • TVs
  • refrigerators and freezers
  • computer monitors.

It is not mandatory to display this information online, but since it’s good practice to keep customers informed, many online shopping sites will include this information as well.

How to read the Energy Star Rating label

The Energy Star Rating label is designed to represent the energy efficiency of an appliance in an easy-to-understand way. This allows you to quickly understand how much energy a product will use when you’re trying to decide which appliance to buy.

The most common labels rates products between 1 and 6 stars; however, a 10-star label has recently been introduced as appliances are becoming more and more efficient. The 10-star label features an extra row of four stars across the top of the label.

The stars represent the product’s efficiency relative to other models of the same size. The number of stars a product has will be highlighted in red. The more stars in red, the more efficient the product is.

Energy consumption

These labels also display the ‘Energy consumption’ of an appliance. This is how much energy an appliance uses in kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. This is based on standardised testing that sticks to Australian and New Zealand standards.

This number can be used to compare any two models of the same appliance regardless of their size. The smaller the number, the less it costs to run the appliance.  

How do Energy Star Ratings save you money?

The beauty of this system is that it’s pretty easy to understand — the more stars, the more efficient the appliance is. The more efficient the appliance is, the less it will cost to run. And the less it costs to run, the lower your electricity bill. 

Generally speaking, appliances with higher star ratings will cost more to purchase; however, they will cost less to run. This means long-term savings.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for a new refrigerator. You’ve narrowed it down to a 1-star model for $499 that uses 600kWh per year, and a 4-star model for $650 that uses 200kWh per year.

Single unit energy prices across Australia range from approximately $0.20 to $0.30 per kWh. Let’s average that out to $0.25 for our example. If you multiply the single unit price with the energy consumption figure for the 1 and 4-star models, you’ll get $150 and $50 per year respectively.

Purchasing the 4-star machine will save you roughly $100 per year on your electricity bill. In this example, you’ll recoup the difference in the purchasing price in about a year and a half!

Of course, this is just an example — you can use the online calculator on the E3 Program website to more accurately predict your savings. You should also keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine to buy that 1-star model if it meets your budget and needs. It may not be as efficient as other similar models, but all appliances sold in Australia must meet minimum efficiency standards.

Overall, the Energy Star Ratings found on appliances should be used as a guide to help you make a smart purchase. It’s always good to be a more conscientious consumer, and pitch in where we can to reduce our footprint.

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