These tips for choosing and using appliances covers:
  • Fridges and Freezers
  • Clothes washing machines
  • Clothes driers
  • Dishwashers
  • Computer equipment, and
  • Heated towel rails

Tips for appliance use

Tips for choosing and using appliances

Fridges and freezers

  • Old refrigerators can use three times as much energy as newer efficient models.
  • Select the model with the highest energy rating you can.
  • Buy fridges and freezers that are the right size.  This is especially true for freezers as their energy demand is high. One large fridge will usually be more efficient than two smaller ones.
  • Chest freezers are usually more efficient than upright models as cold air does not escape every time you open the door. Upright freezers with enclosed drawers (not baskets) are a good compromise.
  • “Through-the-door features” such as cold water dispensers and ice-makers use more energy and cost more and should generally be avoided.
  • Position your fridge or freezer in a cool place out of direct sunlight and away from cookers and dishwashers.
  • Ensure there is a 75mm air space around all sides of the cabinet. If the unit is situated in an alcove make sure the top is also ventilated.
  • Make sure the door seal is clean and in good condition. It should hold a piece of paper tightly in place when shut.
  • Set the fridge thermostat to between 3°C and 5°C. The freezer should be set to between -15°C and -18°C. Every degree lower requires five percent more energy. A fridge thermometer is a good investment.
  • •   Avoid overloading the fridge or freezer – try to leave about 20 percent free space for air circulation.
  • •   Defrost manual models regularly or when ice is more than five mm thick.

Clothes washer

  • Select the model with the highest energy rating you can and the most water efficient model.
  • Front loaders are usually more water and energy efficient than top loaders. They are gentler on clothes, use less detergent and save space as they can be installed under a bench. They usually have a higher spin speed so clothes come out dryer which saves energy on drying in the clothes drier.  For the same reason, models with a high spin speed and reverse tumble action are also desirable.
  • Wash a full load rather than several smaller loads.
  • Use the economy cycle as much as possible.
  • Most of the energy used in washing clothes is for heating the water. Use cold water where possible.

Clothes drier

  • Select the model with the highest energy rating you can.
  • Use a clothes line or rack to dry instead of a drier as much as possible.
  • Consider buying a heat pump clothes drier. They are more expensive to buy and install but much cheaper to run.
  • Avoid over loading or over drying.
  • Externally vent the drier to remove moist air from the room.
  • Run the drier on medium instead of high.


  • Select the model with the highest energy rating you can and the most water efficient model.
  • Choose the right size for your needs so you will not always be washing partial loads. A two drawer model will be more efficient in households where regular small loads are required.
  • Look for models with hot and cold connections or cold connection only. Hot connection only models use much more energy as the whole cycle will use hot water, not just the wash phase.
  • Look for one with an Economy Cycle and use it.
  • Use cold water cycles as much as possible in dishwashers. Select the cycle with the lowest temperature and the minimum time to get the job done.

Computer Equipment

Computers and their associated scanners and  printers make them a significant part of energy use in many households.

  • Wherever possible, replace computer CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors with ‘flat’ screen LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors that use much less power.

Heated towel rails

Heated towel rails can consume somewhere around 5% of all household electricity.  Spread over 1.6 million households, this represents a huge amount of electricity just to keep our towels warm.

Do your wallet and the nation a favour and if you need to use heated towel rails, turn them on only when you need them – 4 hours a day should be plenty – you could install a timer.