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How to check energy efficiency of appliances and keep bills down

You can reduce your long-term energy bill by checking the energy efficiency label of appliances before buying them

Shoppers looking for a cheap fridge, washing machine or TV during this week’s Black Friday trade event might want to check the energy efficiency of their home appliances to realize even greater savings.

Most households are paying more for their energy and will continue to do so for some time if the latest forecast is correct. It makes sense to track your energy usage if you want your bills to be as low as possible.

Many household items now come with labels explaining their energy efficiency – but a third of consumers say they don’t understand them, according to research from comparison site Uswitch.

It doesn’t help that a new rating system was introduced last year, making it harder to compare older devices with newer ones.

You can reduce your long-term energy bill by checking the energy efficiency label of appliances before buying them

You can reduce your long-term energy bill by checking the energy efficiency label of appliances before buying them

Understanding energy efficiency labels can help consumers achieve serious long-term savings, or prevent them from overspending on an “energy saving” appliance that will never pay for itself.

We explain what these efficiency labels mean and how to calculate what you could save over a few years.

What is an energy efficiency label?

According to Uswitch, four out of five consumers now consult energy efficiency labels when buying a new appliance.

Most people will have seen these stickers on appliances and appliances in their homes. They assign a color rating to indicate to users how energy efficient the appliance is.

Appliances are tested for energy consumption at a “typical” level of use and are then rated on an A to G scale, with A being the most efficient and G the least efficient.

Cost of life

The label should also tell you how much energy your device will use in kilowatt hours, but this will vary from device to device.

A fridge-freezer indicates how much energy it will use over the course of a year, while a washing machine label will indicate how much energy it uses for 100 washes, for example.

What does the new energy efficiency label look like?

There has been a lot of confusion under the new A to G system which was introduced in March 2021.

It was updated because the power output of devices has decreased since the introduction of the old system, which meant that the old labeling system which ran from A+++ to G became redundant.

However, many stores still sell A+, A++ and A+++ rated devices under the old system, which may trip up some customers.

The best-performing products, previously labeled A+++, roughly correspond to class B or C under the new scheme.

The Energy Saving Trust says the use of multiple + signs has reduced clarity and most modern products now occupy the first two or three classes.

New energy labels using the new classification system can be found on refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and dryers, televisions, lighting and dishwashers.

The reference in kWh depends on the type of device. It can be the energy used for 100 cycles, in the case of a dishwasher or washing machine, but it can also be the energy used per year or for a certain number of hours.

There’s also room for additional information on the new label, including an appliance’s noise level, the amount of water used per use, and the length of a cycle or wash.

How much money do energy efficient appliances save?

When looking to buy a new energy-efficient appliance, it makes sense to weigh the initial cost of its purchase against how much cheaper running costs could save you on energy bills.

Ben Gallizzi, energy expert at Uswitch, said: ‘You could save a hundred pounds by getting a device on a budget, but you could end up paying a high energy bill as some devices can cost five times as much. run than their more energy-efficient alternatives. .

You could save a hundred pounds by getting a budget device, but you might end up with a hefty energy bill

“How quickly a more efficient device pays for itself depends on the product, but sometimes low-power devices can cost the same as gadgets that will cost up to three times the energy bill.”

A typical A+ rated oven (under the old labeling system) could cost £85.83 to run for a year, which is £11.17 less than the £96.80 a user would pay to run an oven rated A, according to Uswitch.

But the most efficient oven costs £110 more to buy, meaning it would take almost ten years for the most expensive appliance to pay for itself in energy savings at current unit rates.

Uswitch looked at the price of some typical high and low energy efficiency devices, compared to their running cost

Uswitch looked at the price of some typical high and low energy efficiency devices, compared to their running cost

There’s an even greater incentive to check the energy efficiency label when comparing lower-rated appliances.

A brand selling fridge-freezers offered a class A appliance and a class F appliance at the same price, according to research by Uswitch.

However, the F-rated appliance could cost £97.92 a year, compared to £36.72 for the more efficient fridge-freezer.

A typical A++ rated tumble dryer would cost £35 a year, compared to nearly £200 for a less efficient tumble dryer, with the most efficient taking just 18 months to pay for itself.

If you want to find the best options for home appliances, you can use websites like Topten, which provides energy efficiency lists for many electrical products.


Energy efficiency doesn’t just mean buying efficient appliances, you can also cut costs by using less energy.

If you can calculate how much energy a device uses per hour, you can make a decision about where to potentially reduce your consumption.

Each appliance has a power rating, usually expressed in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW) – 1000W = 1kW – ​​which tells you how much electricity is needed to operate. The amount of electricity it uses depends on how long it is on.

The way to solve it is to take the rated power of your device. In this case we have used the average power rating, but this will depend on the exact size and model of the device.

Multiply the power of the appliance by the number of hours of use per day and divide this number by 1000 to obtain the daily kilowatt hour.

Electricity is sold by kWh, which tends to show up as “units” on your bill.

You can calculate the cost of running an appliance by multiplying the power of the appliance by the number of hours of use per day, then by the cost of electricity.

For example, if you use a 1500W air fryer for one hour a day on average, it will consume about 1.5 kilowatts of electricity when you use it.

You can then check how much you pay for your electricity per kilowatt hour to get a figure – currently electricity is capped at 34p/kWh (but some landline offers may pay less than this). That would mean an hour deep fryer would cost around 51p.

For a slow cooker, they can be as low as 200W of power. If you use it for five hours it would cost you 34p, or about 7p an hour.

Five minutes’ use of a typical 800W microwave will only use pennies of energy.

Device Average rated power* Cost per hour Cost per 10 minutes
Kettle 3000W £1.02 17p
clothes dryer 2500W 85p 14p
Oven 2100W 71p 12p
Washing machine 2100W 71p 12p
Hair dryer 2000W 68p 11p
Plaque 2000W 68p 11p
The iron 1500W 51p 9p
Toaster 1000W 34p 6p
Microwave 1000W 34p 6p
Empty 900W 31p 5p
Desktop computer 140W 5p 1p
Portable 50W 2p
broadband router 10W 1p
Source: The Center for Sustainable Energy *Average wattage will vary depending on your device

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