All About Energy Efficiency Standards for Electrical Applicances

energy-efficiency-200One of the easiest ways to save money on your electricity bills whilst being environmentally friendly is to ensure that your household appliances carry the “Energy Saving Recommended” certification mark. This is a standard that has been developed by the Energy Saving Trust in conjunction with industry and the UK government that appears on all new “white goods”.

An appliance that carries the Energy Saving Recommended certification mark can be guaranteed to surpass the standard energy efficiency regulations.

The Energy Saving Recommended certification mark is used in conjunction with the European Union Energy Label for laundry and refrigeration appliances. The label is a useful indicator of how efficient the product is in various categories.

Look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo on energy efficient products

An overall rating is dentoted by an alphabetic score with A being the most efficient (for fridges this is now A++) and G being the least efficient rating available. There are also individual ratings based on e.g. laundry appliances – energy consumption kWh per cycle, washing performance, spin drying performance, load capacity and noise. Each of these can help you make your purchase based on your specific requirements.

It is important to note that an A rated appliance is not necessarily more expensive than an appliance with a lower rating. If you shop around you will be able to find an inexpensive appliance that is environmentally friendly and cost efficient in terms of fuels consumption.


Washing Machines

According to research, the average washing machine is used for 270 wash cycles per year. So it is important to ensure that you have an energy efficient machine. The UK government’s Market Transformation Programme conducted a study examining the amount of energy used by washing machines with ratings from A-F and using washing cycles from 40C – 90c.

Their findings were as follows

kWh per cycle/Energy Rating

Rating A B C D E F
90°C wash 1.22 1.46 1.59 1.72 1.85 1.98
60°C wash 0.94 1.12 1.23 1.34 1.47 1.60
40°C wash 0.56 0.67 0.74 0.79 0.85 0.91




All washing machines sold must now bear the European Union Energy Label and a small number of high quality machines can carry the European Eco-label (see here).

Washing machines carrying the European Eco-label must adhere to the following stringent criteria as denoted by the EU:

  • The washing machine must use equal or less than 0.17 kWh of electricity per kg of washload for a 60C cotton cycle.
  • The machine must use equal or less than 12 litres of water per kg of washload on a 60C cotton cycle.
  • The machine must achive a spin extraction of less than 54% on a 60C cotton cycle.
  • During the wash cycle the machine noise must be below 56 dB(A) and in the spinning cycle it must be below 76 dB(A).
  • The machine must bear clear volumetric or weight based markings on the detergent dispenser.
  • Clear and full instructions must be included with the washing machine so that the correct settings can be chosen for the applicable washload.
  • A minimum of a two year guarantee must be offered with the certainty that parts for the washing machine will be available for a minimum of 12 years from purchase date.
  • Plastics parts that are heavier than 25 grams must contain flame retardant substances and be free from carcinogenic toxic and substances detrimental to aquatic organisms or environment.
  • The manufacturer must take back the machine or recycle at the end of its lifecycle at no additional cost.


Always use a full load and if not possible use a half load or economy cycle.

A third of electricity can be saved if you switch from a 60C wash to a 40C wash. Modern detergents will work just as efficiently at this lower temperature wash.


A fridge freezer is one of the most hard working applicances in the home today. It is used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it is vitally important that an energy efficient refridgeration unit is chosen. In the UK, we use approximately £1.2 billion worth of electricity on refrigeration and studies by the Energy Saving Trust suggest that if everybody in the UK upgraded their fridge freezer to an “A” rated model, we would cut energy wastage in this sector by two-thirds. Indeed buying a new A rated model could save up to £35 on your annual electricity bill and you would be playing your part in cutting CO2 emissions (a reduction of up to 228kg per year).

Fridges are part of the Energy Saving Recommended scheme and it is a requirement that all new fridges carry the European Union Energy Label.

To obtain an EU eco-label rating the refrigeration unit must fulfull the following criteria:

  • The appliance must have an energy efficiency class of A+ or A++.
  • The refrigerants in the refrigerating circuit and foaming agents used for the insulation of the appliance shall have an ozone depletion potential equal to zero.
  • The refrigerants in the refrigerating circuit and foaming agents used for the insulation of the appliance, shall have a global warming potential equal to, or lower than, 15.
  • A minimum of a two year guarantee must be offered with the certainty that parts for the washing machine will be available for a minimum of 12 years from purchase date.
  • The manufacturer must take back the machine or recycle at the end of its lifecycle at no additional cost.
  • The type of refrigerant and foaming agent used for the insulation shall be indicated on the appliance, near to or on the rating plate, to facilitate possible future recovery.
  • Clear and full instructions must be included with the refridgerator including details on where to site the unit, and general best practices.
  • Airborne noise from the appliance, counted as sound power, shall not exceed 40 dB(A).
  • Packaging should be recyclable and where cardboard is used, at least 80% must have been recycled material.


Do not site the refrigerator near a heat source (oven, radiator) as this will lead to an increase of energy consumption.

Any hot foodstuffs should be allowed to cool down before placing them in the refrigerator because the steam from hot foodstuffs will contribute to the icing up of the evaporator unit. However, do not leave the food outside for too long for hygeine reasons!

Ensure that the evaporator unit is kept free of thick layers of ice. Defrost the unit where there is an ice build up as this will increase efficiency.

Do not open the refridgerator door for longer than is necessary.

If the door seal is faulty, replace immediately.

If the refrigerator is to be moved, you should allow time for the unit to settle before you turn it on – normally at least a couple of hours.


In the UK approximately 1 in 4 homes now has a dishwasher in the kitchen. If your dishwasher is an inefficient model you could be paying double the amount in electricity charges than you would if you were using an efficient model. The average household uses their dishwasher for roughly 250 cycles per year. An energy inefficient dishwasher would cost up to 12p per cycle, whereas you can obtain an energy efficient dishwasher that would cost only 6p per cycle. This alone could save you £15 per year on your electricity bill!

Many people believe that the use of a dishwasher will increase their water bills substantially. This is a major misconception. A survey by Which? magazine tested this theory by evaluating the amount of water used by 13 different dishwashers compared with the typical amount of water used by hand washing dishes. Of the 13 dishwashers, 7 of these used 16 litres of water per cycle, whereas the equivalent amount of washing by hand would require 40 litres of hot water!

If you wish to purchase a dishwasher, it is important to note that all dishwashers must carry the European Union Energy Label and a small number of high quality machines can carry the European Eco-label (see here). It is also worth noting as to whether the dishwasher bears the Energy Saving Recommended logo.

If the dishwasher carries the EU Eco-label, the following principles are guaranteed under the scheme:

  • lower energy consumption
  • lower water consumption
  • lower noise limits
  • free take-back for recycling
  • restrictions on the use of hazardous flame retardants
  • 2 year guarantee
  • 12 year availability of spare parts
  • better cleaning performance
  • better drying performance


Similarly to your washing machine you should not use a full cycle for a small number of items. Either use a half cycle or wait until you can fill the machine.

Do not rinse your soiled crockery under the tap prior to loading them into the dishwasher. Simply scrape large food excess from the plates beforehand.

Appliance disposal

Under the terms of new domestic appliances, it is stipulated that manufacturers must take back appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, refridgerators, etc (commonly known as white goods) that are beyond repair for recycling. However, if you have an older appliance, you may need to arrange for the disposal yourself if your supplier is unwilling to do this for you.

There are three main options that are open to you to dispose of the appliance

  1. Recycling centre – White goods can be taken to Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) free of charge and specialist companies will take the appliances away and dispose in an envirnonmenally responsible manner.
  2. Local council – If you are unable to transport your appliance to an HWRC you can opt to have your local council collect the appliance from your home. There maybe a charge for collection, so please check with your council beforehand.
  3. Private companies – There are a number of private companies that will arrange for the collection and disposal of broken white goods. They can be found in your local Yellow Pages directory.
    You should be aware that a law passed recently in 2002 dictates new terms on responsibly disposing of refridgerators. There is now a ban on new refrigerators being manufactured using ozone depleting substances (ODP’s), however, a large number of fridges manufactured prior to 2002 will contain ODP’s. The 2002 law dictates that any fridges that fall into the ODP category must be recovered for destruction to prevent ODP’s from being released into the environment, so it is imperitive that the disposal of refrigerators is dealt with in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.