The 5 most expensive appliances to run in your home

A single appliance could add up to $100 to your annual bill so be sure to switch these off when you can.

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While being stuck at home, you're probably more aware than ever of how much energy you're using around the house. If you're looking to lower your power bills (apart from following our tips for saving energy), reviewing your appliances' power consumption is a great place to start.

The best way to do this is using the standardised Energy Ratings that come with all appliances sold in Australia. We've explained how it works and compiled a list of the top five appliances likely devouring the most power in your household. Lowering their use or picking up new, more efficient models can save a lot on your bills.

Energy Star rating

How we worked out the most energy-intensive appliances in the household

Using the government's Energy Rating website or the Energy Rating labels on your appliances, you can get the general consumption of your different home appliances in kWh per year, based on average use. Of course, average use can vary from household to household, and even more with how much more time people are spending at home. Still, for many of these appliances, these averages give a great picture of what's eating the most power.

Energy consumption x kWh

We've listed the five biggest offenders in order of power consumption below. To calculate the running cost per year, we've simply taken the energy consumption in kWh and multiplied it by how much each kWh will cost you. We've used 28c/kWh as our price based on state averages (average of New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria), though your real costs will be a bit less or more depending on your energy plan and location.

For each category we used popular models from appliancesonline.com.au

"Average use" figures come from the government's Energy Rating calculation page. Models were chosen from the most popular models on appliancesonline.com.au.

air conditioner

1. Air conditioner

Model (star rating)Yearly consumptionAverage useCost to run
Fujitsu 3.5kW Reverse Cycle Split System Inverter Air Conditioner (3.5 stars)396kWhVariable (here we've assumed you use five hours a day over the three hottest months)$110.88 per year

The problem with air conditioners is it can be very difficult to estimate their use. Depending on where you live, you may have to pump way more power into your unit to achieve the same results as somebody else. Even with the conservative use estimate above and a fairly efficient model, it's the most expensive appliance on this list.

The best way to save energy on an air conditioner is to set reasonable temperature goals: 25–27 degrees in summer and 18–20 in winter. Each extra degree can pump costs up by 10%. Other factors, including insulation, will affect this figure.

television

2. Television

Model (star rating)Yearly consumptionAverage useCost to run
Hisense 55-inch Series 6 4K UHD Smart LED TV (5 stars)338kWh10 hours' use daily$94.64 per year

This is an extremely energy-efficient model and it can still add up significantly over the course of a year. Remember that we're looking at the cost of running your television alone, not your whole entertainment system. Add on to that higher consumption from bigger screen models and different technologies (LEDs are more efficient than plasma, for example), televisions are serious consumers of power.

While there's not much change you can make in terms of use short of just watching less TV, this highlights the importance of buying an energy-efficient model and tech type and one that's only as big as you need. If your TV or other monitors like to drop into standby mode, be aware they're still consuming power. Shut them off where you can.

Energy consumption jumps up quite a lot for bigger fridges.

fridge

3. Fridge

Model (star rating)Yearly consumptionAverage useCost to run
Samsung 458L Bottom Mount Fridge (4 stars)330kWh24/7, all year$92.40 per year

Fridges are another example of why capacity is such an important choice. Energy consumption jumps up quite a lot for bigger fridges. Because they're always on you want to make sure you're utilising most of the space in it to avoid chewing unnecessary power. A good yardstick is that if your fridge is regularly less than two-thirds full, it's too big.

Efficiency, as always, is crucial. Energy Rating estimates that every extra star saves you 23% on running costs.

dryer

4. Clothes dryer

Model (star rating)Yearly consumptionAverage useCost to run
Esatto 7kg Condenser Dryer (2 stars)314kWhOne full load per week$87.92 per year

This cost assumes you do one load per week – if you tend to need to run a couple, costs can balloon pretty fast. You might also notice that this clothes dryer's efficiency is a measly 2 stars. Dryer technology makes an incredible difference. Heat pump dryers, for example, are vastly more efficient (usually up around 7 stars) and can cost one third as much to run.

The Energy Rating calculator estimates that each extra star on a dryer will save you 15% off of its running costs. You can also aim for models with auto-sensors that avoid over-drying.

dishwasher

5. Dishwasher

Model (star rating)Yearly consumptionAverage useCost to run
Bosch Serie 4 Under Bench Dishwasher (4 stars)230kWhSeven uses per week at the "normal" setting$64.40 per year (excluding water costs)

This last spot on the list is a toss-up between dishwashers and washing machines. Both are pretty similar in how they operate and both can have their power consumption reduced more or less in the same way. The most important thing is to not buy a larger machine than you need.

Rather than running several half loads, try and run full loads where possible. Use hot washes sparingly – normal washes for a dishwasher or cold washes for a washing machine can help cut down on water heating costs. Reducing use for these appliances is doubly effective and your water bill will drop, too.

How do I determine the energy efficiency of an appliance?

The more efficient a particular appliance is, the less power it will consume. Energy efficiency is determined by standardised testing, meaning you can make comparisons based on the red, yellow and black "Energy Rating" sticker on all appliances. Here's how it works:

  • Capacity. Higher capacity appliances use more energy. To make a meaningful comparison, ensure you're comparing things with the same capacity. A fridge that's far more efficient but twice the size of another one will still cost you more to run overall.
  • Star rating. More stars means more efficient. Most appliances only go up to 6, but with energy efficiency continuing to rise some appliances can have up to 10 stars.
  • Energy consumption. This number, found in the middle of the label, tells you how much power in kWh an appliance will chew through per year on average. This is the most important figure in determining costs.

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