Are you thinking about a new kitchen? If so, it might also be the time to consider replacing some of your old appliances.
Energy efficiency in home appliances has pushed forward significantly over the last few years, and replacement can help make sure your kitchen starts life with high performance, bringing cheaper bills and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The difference in running costs between old and new appliances can be significant. But first things first; it may be a good idea to do your own ‘energy audit’ and see just how well what you’ve got now is performing.
A cheap, plug-in energy meter and thermometer should do the trick. A fridge, for example, should be around 3-5 degrees Celsius (older ones are sometimes found to be operating a fair bit outside this range, and with high energy use to boot), and you can compare your energy consumption, measured in kWh/annum, with those of the latest models of appliances on the market.
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If you decide it’s time to make changes, looking at EU product energy labels of appliances is the essential place to start. The label is eventually reverting back to the ‘old style’ simple A-G ratings, but for now, you can get products labelled up to A+++ - that, naturally, being the most efficient.
But there’s more to consider than the label rating alone. Products are rated by both product and size category, so a larger appliance with a higher energy efficiency rating is likely to cost you more to run than a smaller model with a lower rating. It’s important to consider what your needs are likely to be before making a purchase.
The quickest route to see the true ‘best of the best’ in energy efficiency is by visiting the Topten UK site. Energy Saving Trust is the UK partner for the EU-wide initiative that was set up to highlight the leading products for energy efficiency in every product category.
Extractor fans, also known as range hoods, for example, are something of a forgotten appliance to consider and can consume excessive energy if left running. Topten looks at overall energy consumption, grease filtering efficiency and the efficiency of the lighting in the appliance, to highlight the true best bets for your kitchen. In this case, that might mean a £10 annual saving, which adds up.
Some of the biggest savings can be found in refrigeration. No surprise, perhaps, as fridges and freezers are working round the clock. There’s a big difference between an A+ fridge freezer – the current eco design minimum standard – and an A+++. There are potential running cost savings of £25 a year to be made by choosing the most efficient.
While getting the latest ‘look’ is important, it’s also worth considering whether a particular style of appliance might prove to be an expensive fad when judged over the longer term. Big American-style side-by-side fridges, for example, can be big energy consumers, and cost nearly £60 a year to run.
It’s also certainly worth thinking about whether a particular appliance is needed at all. Clothes can often be dried outside and plates washed by hand, negating the need for a tumble dryer or dishwasher. But if you really must have all the mod cons, there are savings to be made here, too.
Looking at tumble dryers, heat pump technology has been a game-changer in terms of energy efficiency. The most efficient models can save up to £50 a year compared to those using older technologies, and there are heat pump dryers in the under £500 bracket after costs dropped significantly in recent years.
There’s less difference between A+ and A+++ when it comes to dishwashers, but a notable advantage of the best in class models is they also save on water. The same applies when considering replacing your washing machine. If replacement is required, factoring in water efficiency is a sustainable move and a thrifty one, too.
Many households also have their boiler in the kitchen. Heating is the number one energy expense in the home – accounting for 56 per cent of the average bill – so the replacement of an old boiler may well be something to prioritise. It may not be as exciting as some of the latest kitchen appliances, but it’s sure to deliver pleasing results in the long-run.
If your refurb isn’t yet underway, opting for energy efficient lighting could be a smart idea. Halogens, often found in kitchens, can each cost around £4 a year to run, whereas LEDs with the same fittings and light output cost around 45p.
All in all, there’s plenty to think about when balancing style and substance, short and long-term benefits, in the kitting out of a new kitchen.