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Household appliances that save energy, water and money

Using your appliances more efficiently can help reduce climate change effects, save water and save you money. When it comes to buying new appliances, choose the most efficient models to make a big difference.

The wider issue

An energy efficient fridge freezer uses nearly a third of the energy of a 10-year-old model

It pays to think about the appliances you’re buying and the ways they are being used. Choosing correctly can help you both save money and lessen your impact on the environment.

Fridges and freezers, for example, work harder than any other kitchen appliance and are on 24 hours a day. An energy efficient fridge freezer uses nearly a third of the energy to do the same job as a 10-year-old model.

Spare the dryer

Taking steps to dry your clothes more efficiently will help save energy and money:

  • when possible, dry your clothes outside or on a clothes rack
  • if you use the dryer, fill it each time, rather than putting on a number of small loads

Use washing machines and dishwashers more efficiently

Two half loads use more energy and water than one full load

A few simple actions can cut your energy and water use:

  • washing clothes at 30 degrees saves energy, and today's detergents wash just as well at low temperatures
  • run washing machines and dishwashers with full loads, as a half load uses more than half the energy and water of a full load
  • switching off and unplugging appliances at the wall when not in use will save the energy used by lights and displays
  • cleaning filters regularly keeps appliances running efficiently

Fridges and freezers

Use fridges and freezers more efficiently by defrosting appliances regularly.

Buy energy efficient appliances

Running costs matter
When you’re buying new appliances, think about the running costs as well as the purchase price. A small monthly saving from a more efficient appliance could add up to a substantial saving over its lifetime.

Smaller appliances use less energy
Look for the smallest product for your needs to cut energy consumption and protect the environment. Two different sized fridges can have the same efficiency rating, but the smaller one will use less energy and cost less to run.

Gas for cooking
Generally, gas is a greener choice than electricity for cooking as it has lower climate change effects.

Ditch unnecessary features
Some appliances have unnecessary features that use up extra electricity. For instance, some kettles have lights or ‘keep warm’ functions. Try to avoid these if you’re looking to save energy.

Look for the label

Appliances with an Energy Saving Recommended label are cheaper to run

When buying a new appliance, there are two key energy labels to look out for:

  • the Energy Saving Recommended logo can only be used on the most energy efficient products, usually the top 20 per cent of those available  
  • the EU energy label grades products from A (best) to G (worst) for energy use, with the scale going up to A++ for fridges and freezers

You could also look at how water efficient a new appliance is. Often, the more energy efficient a machine is, the less water it will use. You can check water consumption on the EU energy label which, for washing machines and dishwashers, shows litres of water used per wash:

  • when choosing a washing machine, look for a machine that uses less than 50 litres per wash
  • for dishwashers, look for one that uses less than 15 litres per wash

Get rid of old appliances safely

Appliances contain large amounts of valuable raw materials like metals, as well as harmful chemicals which can damage the environment if not disposed of carefully. If you have to dispose of an old appliance you can:

  • try to find unwanted devices a new home with a charity or other organisation – appliances can often be repaired and reused
  • if you're buying a new electrical item, retailers are now obliged to either take back the old item you're replacing, or tell you where you can take it for recycling
  • some retailers will collect old appliances from your home if they are delivering a new item, so ask if they provide this service
  • old electrical appliances can be disposed of at your local civic amenity site (waste and recycling centre) free of charge
  • local authorities will collect unwanted bulky white goods from your home, but they may make a charge for the service

Improvements in fridges mean that newer models don't contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that damage the ozone layer, but they still need to be carefully disposed of.

Energy efficient cooking

You can also use the appliances you have in an efficient way when you are cooking. Things to consider are:

  • putting a lid on a pan will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to boil
  • electric kettles consume nearly a third of the electricity used by an average household for cooking, so only boil as much water as you need

If you’re looking to heat up a small amount of food, you may want to consider using a microwave rather than a conventional oven. There's emerging research that indicates this may save you energy.

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