Not all appliance are created equal. Some are better than others from a resource-use perspective. These tips will help you make a better choice.


When you are choosing an appliance for your home you should start by following these guidelines:

  • Don’t buy appliances you don’t really need.  Do you really need that second fridge? Can you think of a way to do without that fridge to save the cost of buying and running it and the environmental impact of its use, manufacture and disposal?  Do you really need a clothes drier if you have access to a clothes line?
  • Choose an appliance that is the right size for your needs.  Larger models will use more energy and generate more greenhouse gases.
  • Purchase the most efficient model available by choosing the highest energy rating. Appliances with lower ratings may be a little cheaper initially but they will cost you a lot more money to operate over their lifetime and have more environmental impact.  Remember that for any appliance, the ongoing operating costs greatly exceed the original purchase price of an appliance.

See our page Tips for Appliances for further guidance on choosing and using specific types of appliances.

Standby losses

Standby power is the electricity consumed by appliances when they are switched off at the appliance but not at the wall.  Many appliances these days revert to a sleep or standby mode when switched off.  In this mode they are not performing their primary function but still consume electricity.  Some devices, especially TVs, consume nearly as much energy on standby as when they are in use.  This electricity is used to maintain memory, run a clock, maintain remote control activation and other features. Much of it performs no function at all and is simply wasted. Over the course of a year, a microwave oven uses more energy powering its clock than it does cooking your food.

Standby power use is becoming a major problem. In New Zealand, standby power consumes around 10% of an average household’s electricity and costs around $100 million every year – enough electricity for 77,000 homes. The average power consumption of a typical home theatre system in standby mode is equivalent to leaving a light continuously switched on.

To reduce standby power losses you need to turn off appliances at the wall when not in use.

Appliances energy rating