People fighting in stores over massive TVs tend to grab the headlines on Black Friday – but this time around, you might want to think longer term as you prepare to get yourself a bargain.
Though Christmas gifts and the latest technologies might be on many radars, the day could present an opportunity to replace a home appliance, and save big.
Energy Saving Trust's Project Manager Stewart Muir (pictured) has a suggestion that probably won't be on the front pages of most websites plugging Black Friday offers. He said:
“If you want to look beyond consumer electronics, replacing your tumble dryer would be a good option. This is an example where there's been a massive technology shift, with today's best-performing heat pump systems costing about £25-30 a year to run, while older, condenser models might run you up a £90 annual bill.
“Prices have gone down for the best dryers out there too, so if you can get a Black Friday deal on top of this, it's definitely something to consider.”
The Europe-wide Topten initiative can provide a big help for those taking a slightly less impulsive approach to Friday's festivities, guiding consumers towards the best of the best in energy efficiency. Stewart said:
“The site is a great place to look at the entire life cycle costs. You can compare the most efficient products with a model of the lowest energy class that can currently be sold. Savings will be even higher if you are upgrading from an older appliance that isn't made to ecodesign standards. It really makes a strong case.”
If you're thinking about getting involved in the rush for a deal, here are some other figures from Topten to help you make a choice:
While Black Friday might bring savings over one day, ecodesign is saving households money all the time.
Better product standards are saving €490 per household when averaged across Europe, while a recent report from 4E on labelling and improved design highlighted not only the national energy consumption cuts achieved, but also significant drops in purchase cost for the best performing products.
It's clear that manufacturers in Europe, on the whole, are moving increasingly towards products which result in lower emissions and lower running costs. But as people prepare to rush to stores or visit online retailers in the late-year consumer rush, are stores doing enough to point them in the direction of products with lower long-term costs?
He said: “The Digi-Label is about making the information on energy labels more understandable for consumers. You can tap in personalised information when you're about to make a purchase – for example, the amount of washes you do a week – and it will show you the cost, there and then. It takes what's in stores to the next level.
The tool that's come out of the project, called PocketWatt, will be available in the UK from February.
He added: “We've also got a number of retailers signed up to be part of Topten – so clearly there is interest in highlighting the best of the best for energy efficiency.”
It might be argued that events like Black Friday are a problem in themselves; that conspicuous consumption and rapid replacement of products is feeding global sustainability problems.
There are European standards to be set soon looking at the circular economy – the recycling and repurposing of products – and a recent, visual report by Green Alliance has given legislators a nudge towards setting ecodesign standards that ensure products last longer, so they don't have to be replaced as often in the first place.
There's clearly a lot to be done to tackle the sustainability issues associated with our household goods. But with a bit of savvy thinking and a visit to a helpful website, even Black Friday can be a more conscious experience.