Appliance star energy ratings explained

The Energy Rating Label was first introduced in 1986 in NSW and Victoria, and is now mandatory in all Australian states and territories for electrical appliances to carry the label when they are offered for sale.

This includes:

  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Clothes washers
  • Domestic televisions
  • Clothes dryers
  • Air-conditioners (single phase only)
  • Some three phase air conditioners and swimming pool pumps may carry an energy rating label if the supplier chooses to apply for one

On all these appliances, the label features a star rating between one and 10 stars – the greater the number of stars the higher the efficiency.

Why are they there?

The star rating allows consumers to compare the energy efficiency of domestic appliances on a fair and equitable basis. It also provides incentive for manufacturers to improve the energy performance of appliances.

The Energy Rating Label has two main features that provide consumers with the following information:

  1. The star rating gives a comparative assessment of the model’s energy efficiency
  2. The ‘comparative energy consumption’ (usually kilowatt hours/year) provides an estimate of the annual energy consumption of the appliance based on the tested energy consumption and information about the typical use of the appliance in the home. Air Conditioners show the power consumption of the appliance (kW or kWh/hour).

The star rating of an appliance is determined from the energy consumption and size of the product. These values are measured under Australian Standards which define test procedures for measuring energy consumption and minimum energy performance criteria.

In recent years, efficiency requirements for televisionsfridges and air-conditioners have been tightened significantly (from five stars up to 10 stars for some appliances), making it easier to see the difference between an efficient and inefficient appliance.

How do appliances gain their star rating?

There are two main policy tools used to achieve reductions in energy use from these products: Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and Energy Rating Labels (ERLs).

Appliances which need to follow the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) in Australia include just about any product that requires electricity, from refrigerators and set top boxes to compact fluorescent lamps and three phase electric motors.

Soon MEPS for computers and monitors, and gas water heaters will be norm.

What are MEPS

Minimum Energy Performance Standards, or MEPS, are regulations that require certain classes of appliances to perform to a minimum standard before they are allowed to be sold in Australia.

Manufacturers or distributors must test these appliances to Australian standards and demonstrate that the energy they use to perform a standard task is below the allowed maximum amount. This helps to keep poorer performing appliances off the market.

Kew, Vic, Kitchen

Why go to all this trouble?

In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy demand, improving the energy efficiency of appliances and products has significant economic and environmental benefits for Australia.