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What should I look for when choosing appliances?

When looking for energy efficient appliances for your home, you need to look out for the energy ratings label on appliances and consider the size of the appliance that you require.

How do energy labels work?

Energy ratings are generally given to products based on their size category. This means that two differently sized appliances with the same energy rating may use quite different amounts of electricity. For instance, an A rated 180-litre fridge freezer could cost only £43 a year to run, whereas a larger 525-litre fridge freezer with a better A+ rating could cost £57 a year to run.

It is best to check energy labels on products and look for the product with the best energy rating for the size you require.

How can I reduce my energy consumption?

Take control of your electric appliances

Watch our video to see how to manage the cost of using electrical appliances in your home.

Avoid leaving appliances on standby

On average UK households spend £30 a year powering appliances left in standby mode.

This is the energy used by certain appliances when not in use and not switched off at the plug. As well as standby power, other new additions to the average household’s collection of electrical goods such as broadband modems, broadband routers, digi-boxes and telephones use low levels of electricity when not in use. These are not items that we tend to think to turn off, but can gradually go on to consume a great deal of electricity over the year. For instance, a broadband modem router can consume as much as £10 worth of electricity if left on for an entire year.

Fortunately there are a number of products available to help cut down your standby electricity consumption, such as standby savers that allow you to turn all your appliances off standby in one go. Some come with timers and others come with a single off-switch. 

Recent regulations specify that non-networked electrical devices sold within the EU after 2013 cannot have a standby power greater than 0.5W, and networked-connected devices (e.g. televisions or games consoles connected to the internet) must not consume more than 3 to 12 W depending on the product. Households are being filled with more electronic gadgets, so it is worth looking at your standby usage.

Choose your appliances wisely

The table summarises common appliances for the home and key considerations for each appliance type. 

Home appliances and key considerations

Appliance type

Considerations

Kitchen appliances

Cookers

We recommend choosing an oven with an energy rating of A+.  A pyrolytic function can also be an energy intensive means of cleaning which can contribute to higher running costs.  The energy label is now found on both electric and gas ovens, enabling consumers to make the most efficient choice for either fuel.

Microwave ovens

Microwaves often provide a much more energy efficient way of cooking food than in the oven. Unlike ovens, microwaves only heat your food and not the air-space inside.

Dishwashers                                            

Dishwashers can take up a significant chunk of your electricity bill, typically costing between £35 and £47 a year to run. The most efficient dishwashers on the market have an A+++ rating, they cost around £7 less to run than the lowest rated dishwashers that you can buy of the same size, and they use less water.
Fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers                                                                                             These are switched on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it's well worth finding models that are energy efficient. Typically choosing an A+++ fridge freezer over an A+ unit will save you about £320 in energy bills over the lifetime of the product. However, as the energy rating is based upon classification by size, choosing a smaller fridge will use less energy than a larger fridge with the same energy rating. You can compare the total energy consumption of appliances by looking for their yearly energy consumption in kWh / annum displayed on the bottom right of the energy label. 
Kettles Kettles are one of the most commonly used appliances in the kitchen. ECO kettles that only boil the amount of water required can use 20 per cent less energy than a conventional electric kettle. On average a UK household boils the kettle 1,500 times a year.
Tumble dryers  

Drying clothes outdoors on a washing line costs nothing and uses no energy, so it is the ideal way to dry your clothes. Indoors on a rack can also be a no-cost, no-energy solution, although you will need to be mindful of the increase in moisture levels. Should you need to use a tumble dryer, choosing that with an A+++ energy label over an A-rated one could save you around £355 over its 13-year lifetime.

Choose one with a sensor that tells you when your clothes are dry enough, preventing your clothes from being over dried.

Electric heat pump tumble dryers are more efficient as they recycle the heat from the ventilation tube back into the dryer after removing the water vapour from the air.

There are also gas tumble dryers. This type of dryer can be slightly more expensive to install as it needs a gas connection.

Washing machines An energy efficient machine will save you money on your electricity bill and, if you have a meter, your water bill too. Choosing an A+++ washing machine over an A+ one could save you around £65 over its 11-year lifetime. Remember to try to wash only once you’ve enough laundry for a full load, and at low temperatures, to maximise your savings.

Computer equipment

Desktop, laptop PCs and tablets

Laptops typically use 85 per cent less electricity over a year than desktop PCs. Choosing a laptop over a desktop and reducing standby could save up to £17 per year.

Tablets have even lower energy usage - on average, tablets use 70 per cent less power than laptops.

Home Entertainment

Smart speakers and DAB radios 

Smart speakers generally cost around £5 per year to run. These are appliances that are typically left on standby mode, so it is worth considering whether you do need them on 24-hours a day.

Digital radios are a popular consumer electronic product due to superior sound quality and a wide range of extra channels over the analogue equivalent. 

Televisions

Televisions can be the most power-hungry of all entertainment equipment, particularly the largest ones. The larger a television screen, the more energy it will consume, regardless of its energy rating. For instance,

Running costs per year

32” TV

40” TV

60” TV

A

£12

£17

£37

A+

£9

£13

£27

A++

£6

£8

£18

 

In our cost comparison table, even the most efficient 60” television is still more expensive to run per year against the lowest rated 32” television. Choosing a smaller television generally means choosing a more efficient television.

LED screens are the most common form of flat-screen TV on the market. LED TVs use an LCD (liquid crystal display) and LEDs provide the backlighting to create the picture.

OLED and QLEDs are similar to LED screens in that they both use an LCD display. However, with OLED and QLED, you don’t require the backlighting, each pixel lights itself. Both types boast very high performance in picture quality; however, currently these do come at a premium.

Power consumption is mostly dependent on level of brightness and hours of use. After selecting the smallest TV still suitable, the best ways to save energy are to reduce brightness settings to your lowest acceptable limit and remember to switch off your TV when not in use. Many TVs incorporate features to do this automatically, such as light sensors to detect the room’s brightness and adjust the screen accordingly, and sleep timers to switch off the TV after a number of hours of no interaction.

Plasma TV production ended in 2015. And since 2014, lamp lit LCDs (as opposed to LED lit) are in very limited production. Both of these TVs use more power than the LEDs discussed above.

What should I do with my old appliances? 

Electrical items should be disposed of carefully due to the nature of their materials. 

Items which have the image of a wheelie bin with a cross on them should not be disposed of using the general household rubbish collection. These items include everything from large white goods to energy saving light-bulbs. By keeping waste electrical equipment separate from other waste, the hazardous substances can be removed and other parts can be recycled rather than sent to landfill.

Disposing of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

If you are buying new electrical appliances, retailers are obliged by law to either:

  • Take your old appliances off you for free in store.
  • Tell you where you can take your old item for recycling free of charge.

Many retailers offer collection of old appliances from your home, although they are not obliged to do this.

Alternatively you can take your old equipment to your nearest recycling point, or ask your local authority to collect your bulky items. Some may charge for this service.

More information

Home energy efficiency

Learn about how you can save money on your energy bills and reduce your carbon emissions with our guidance on energy efficiency in the home

Discover more

Energy ratings on your appliances

Find out more about the energy ratings mean on your appliances

Read our blog

Keep up to date with the latest inventions

Take a look at the latest products and ideas connected to home energy efficiency.

Read our innovation update