How to buy energy-saving products
- Tips to help you buy energy-saving products
- Efficient appliances independently tested by Which?
- Energy monitors and smart meters explained
- How to choose the most energy-efficient appliance
The modern home is packed with products designed to make day-to-day tasks that bit easier. But using washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, fridges, freezers and other appliances on a daily basis means higher overall energy consumption, a mounting electricity bill and an ever-expanding carbon footprint. Energy-saving products can lessen that impact.
Which? tests and measures the running costs and average energy and water consumption of a range of home appliances to help you find the top energy savers. Our energy-saving appliances review shows the products successfully achieving low energy consumption without compromising on performance.
If you want to find out exactly how much a specific home appliance or television costs to run per year, check out our energy cost calculator tools. Not only can these tools guide you to the best cheap-to-run appliances currently available but they also tell you just how much electricity individual TVs, tumble dryers, fridge freezers and dishwashers guzzle.
The most visual indication of a product's energy efficiency - including home appliances like washing machines, fridge freezers and tumble dryers - is its EU energy efficiency rating. This rating is usually shown on the product using a label like the one pictured. You can find out more about understanding energy labels in our guide.
But while energy labels can give you a general indication of how energy efficient an appliance is, we've found energy labels aren't always accurate.
Which? tests energy consumption in a way that reflects how you actually use different appliances. This means we're accurately able to recommend the products that use less energy.
Energy-saving products for your home
Below we've outlined some key energy-saving products to look out for - along with quick links to our lab test reviews to help you find the best products on the market.
Energy-saving light bulbs
With traditional incandescent light bulbs having been phased out under EU rules, energy-saving light bulbs are now used in households throughout Europe.
According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), even though energy-saving light bulbs are slightly more expensive than traditional varieties, you'll usually make back the difference in electricity savings in a year. The EST estimates that one energy-saving light bulb, which can last up to 10 times longer than a standard bulb, saves on average £3 a year.
- Find out how to buy energy-saving light bulbs
If you have gas central heating, your boiler will account for around 60% of your home's CO2 emissions, according to the EST. This makes boiler efficiency a key priority if you're looking to cut your carbon footprint and your energy bills. Sedbuk ratings - similar to the energy rating labels you find on fridge freezers and washing machines - are split into bands between A and G, with A-rated boilers being the most energy efficient.
A high-efficiency condensing boiler is a good choice if you're looking for a more efficient boiler. Condensing boilers make better use of the heat they generate from burning fuels such as gas or oil, as they capture waste heat released from the flue and use it to heat water returning from your central heating system.
- Want to buy a new boiler? Check out our boiler reviews
Energy-saving washing and drying
Developments such as heat pumps in tumble dryers, cold wash laundry detergents for washing machines and 'energy save' dishwasher programs are helping to bring energy-saving innovations into the mainstream.
Look out for eco program settings on washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers - these are designed to use less energy and water during a load. If you're on an energy tariff such as Economy 7, which gives you cheaper energy at certain times of the day, appliances with time delay functionality could help you cut your bills.
- If you want to find the cheapest energy package for you, use Which? Switch to compare energy prices.
You can also save energy by changing the way you use kitchen appliances. We've got energy-saving tumble drying tips, a guide to water-efficient washing machines (which also includes tips on being greener when washing regardless of the machine you own) and a video on using your dishwasher in a more eco-friendly way.
Energy-efficient fridge freezers
After central heating, refrigeration adds more to your energy bills than anything else as appliances are switched on all the time. Running costs for fridge freezers can be anything from £25 to £87 per year, so buying an energy-saving appliance can make a real difference to your energy bills.
Energy monitors and smart meters
Energy monitors give a real-time estimate of how much energy you're using. They aren't actually energy-saving products in themselves, but having a visual reminder of how much energy you're using can help you become more mindful of reducing your energy consumption. Energy monitors start at around £25 so they're a fairly low-cost way to keep an eye on your energy use.
Smart meters are a new alternative to traditional gas and electricity meters. They measure your exact energy consumption and send all the information back to your gas or electricity supplier, meaning an end to bills based on estimated usage. The government wants every home to have a smart meter by 2020, and plans to start officially rolling this out from 2015. However, some energy suppliers have already started installing smart meters in their customers' homes.