You may have seen energy star ratings on several modern appliances. Let’s look at how to read energy star ratings, and what they mean for your energy bill.
The more energy efficient your appliances, the more money you save on your energy bills. Modern Australian appliances carry an energy star rating to help with your purchasing decisions.
However, many Australians don’t understand how to read energy star ratings. Here’s the breakdown.
What does the label look like?
Energy star labels come in two varieties:
- 6-star energy rating labels
- 10-star energy rating labels
As the name suggests, a 6-star label has six stars in a red and white bar at the top of the label. The red colouring shows you how many stars the appliance has. For example, if the red stops at the fourth star, it’s a four-star appliance. The label also contains an energy rating, which tells you how many kilowatt hours (kWh) the appliance uses annually, explained in detail below.
10-star labels look similar, only the 6-star bar is completely red. You’ll find a further four stars above the 6-star bar. Add each white star in this bar to the six in the original bar to find the appliances’ energy star rating.
As a general rule, appliances with higher star ratings cost more. However, they also use less energy, so you may save money on your energy bills over time.
What appliances are they on?
You’ll find energy star ratings on the following appliances:
Other appliances may carry the label, but these are the seven that must have one.
What about blue energy stars?
You may see a blue energy star on any of the following appliances:
- DVD/Blu-Ray players
- Fax Machines
Blue energy stars aren’t related to Australian energy star rating labels. Instead, they’re an American initiative. Nevertheless, they serve a similar purpose in telling you whether the appliance is energy-efficient.
They’re voluntary for Australian manufacturers, so not everyone uses them. As a result, an appliance without a blue energy star may be as energy efficient as one that does have one.
How do the ratings help me to save money?
It all comes down to energy consumption. The more electricity an appliance uses, the more it costs you to power it.
For example, let’s assume that you want to buy a washing machine that can carry a 7kg load. You have a choice between a one-star and six-star machine. The one-star machine uses 500kWh of energy per year, while the six-star machine uses 250kWh.
Look at your energy bill to find the cost of a single kWh of energy. Let’s assume it’s 30 cents. Now, multiply the single unit cost by the annual kWh figure on the energy star rating.
In this example, the one-star washing machine costs $150 per year to run. By contrast, the six-star machine costs $75.
As you can see, the longer the machine lasts, the more money you may save on your energy bills. Using the six-star washing machine for 10 years saves $750 on electricity compared to using the one-star machine for the same period.
Could buying a low-star appliance save money?
It depends on the initial cost of the appliance, how much energy it saves, and how long you’ll use it for.
Generally, low-star appliances cost less upfront, but cost more over time. If you only plan on using the appliance for a couple of years, the upfront saving may outweigh the long-term energy saving.
As a general rule, the longer you need the appliance, the more stars it should have.
The final word
Always check an appliances’ energy star rating before buying. In most cases, buying an appliance with a high-star rating could save you money over time.
Furthermore, be wary of any appliances from the above list that don’t carry a rating. These have probably not undergone testing, and may cost more money to operate.
- Figure 1. Energy Rating Label Image - Commonwealth of Australia (E3 Program)