Whether you’re buying a washing machine or a light bulb, there’s no shortage of low energy appliances to choose from – but how do you know which to buy and what sort of energy saving are you really likely to make?
What Makes Low Energy Appliances so Important?
Principally it’s the sheer number of appliances we have in our homes, from the central heating boiler to the kitchen kettle, and the way they consume energy on a daily basis. Picking low energy appliances wherever possible obviously reduces the amount of energy you use – and the more you have, the greater the saving.
What Are Energy Rating Labels All About?
A number of different types of appliances must carry an EU energy label by law, which gives a potential purchaser useful information about the product’s energy consumption and efficiency in an easy to understand way.
The label gives a letter – from A to G – to describe the appliance’s energy efficiency, A being the most and G the least efficient. Depending on the product, the label often also gives additional information such as how noisy it is in use, or how much water in consumes.
In addition to those appliances which are legally required to have these labels, many other kinds also give the same information on a voluntary basis.
So Why do Washing Machines Have Three Letter Ratings on Their Labels?
They’re there to describe the performance of the three main jobs the machine does; the first gives a measure of its overall energy efficiency running a full load through a washing cycle at 60 degrees C, the second tells you about its wash performance and the third relates to how well it spin dries.
What’s the Difference Between the EU Rating Scheme, the Eco-Label Scheme and the Energy Saving Recommended Logo?
The EU label scheme is a legal requirement for certain kinds of appliances. The Eco-Label – also an EU scheme – is voluntary and awarded to particularly environmentally friendly products. Energy efficiency in use is not the only factor considered, since the scheme also takes issues of embedded energy, the sustainability of manufacture and the ease of recycling or disposal into account.
The Energy Saving Recommended logo is run by the Energy Saving Trust and sets out to recognise appliances which are the most efficient of all. The criteria are very strict and it can be awarded to any kind of appliance, not just the ones which require labels by law.
Aren’t Low Energy Light Bulbs Very Expensive?
Nowhere near as expensive as they once were – and some electricity companies have even been handing them out for free! A few years ago, buying low energy bulbs was a serious expense, but these days most cost little more than a couple of pounds, which when you consider how long they last and how much energy they save, represents a pretty wise investment in the long run.
Can You Get Low Energy Light Bulbs in Different Shapes and Fittings?
Yes, you certainly can. Getting bulbs to fit existing fixtures used to be a big problem but today the range of light bulb shapes, sizes and fittings is enormous, although some of the less common shapes are still not available in low energy versions. Generally speaking, however, they are readily obtainable for most usual types of bulbs.
How Can a Lower Wattage Bulb Give Out the Same Light as My Normal 100 Watt Bulb?
This is the really great thing about low energy bulbs; traditional incandescent bulbs rely on the filament getting really hot – literally white-hot – to give off light and as you’ll have noticed if you’ve ever been a bit too impatient changing a dead bulb, this makes the glass very hot indeed! Low energy bulbs don’t waste all this electricity as heat, which is how one of these bulbs can give you the same amount of light as your old 100W one – and still save you 80W of energy into the bargain!
What Sort of Savings Can Low Energy Appliances Really Bring Me?
Obviously the actual savings you make will depend on what sort of appliances you have and how you use them but there are plenty of general guideline figures around that can give you a pretty good idea.
Switching to the most efficient kind of washing machine, for instance, should save 30 per cent or more of the electricity your old machine used, while running a high efficiency dishwasher could reduce the energy used by up to 40 per cent compared with a conventional one. Picking the right kettle, refrigerator or freezer could also bring savings – efficient examples of each potentially offering 20 per cent or even more, while every low energy light bulb should save at least £3 a year – and last up to ten times longer – compared with its traditional counterpart.
Whether you look at it as a way of reducing your bills or cutting your carbon footprint, low energy appliances can make a major energy-saving contribution.