We know that making sustainable product choices is increasingly important, whether it's with the supermarket shop or deciding what car to buy. But when it comes to household appliances, it's not always clear how to make an eco-friendly purchase.
That's where our new Eco Buy label comes in. Just like our Best Buys, the new Which? Eco Buy is backed up by rigorous research.
Products we've given an Eco Buy will have a lower carbon footprint over their lifetime, all while doing their main job well.
And if you expect that you'd need to pay through the nose for eco-friendly products, think again. Our research has found that you don't have to pay a premium to make a sustainable choice. In fact, the cheapest Eco Buy dishwashers and washing machines cost less than £400.
With excellent energy and water efficiency, they will save you money on your household bills in the long run, too.
Read on to find out exactly what makes an Eco Buy and to see four examples of Eco Buy appliances.
In December 2019, we asked more than 1,300 Which? members what sustainability issues mattered most to you when buying a new product.
Longevity, energy use and repairability were the three most important factors. But these can be hard to determine from a product's spec sheet or reviews, and some products that make green claims don't always live up to them, or can fall down when it comes to their actual performance.
This sent us a clear message: we need to make it easier for you to identify sustainable products that live up to their eco claims and still do their job well.
After months of fine-tuning, we're proud to launch the Eco Buy. Backed up by lab testing, this new Which? accolade will highlight at a glance the products that are best for the environment, while still performing their main job well.
We've crunched the numbers for the washing machines and dishwashers we've tested to find the ones that last longest, use the least energy and water and can be repaired if something goes wrong, without compromising on their cleaning performance.
To earn our Eco Buy recommendation, a product must achieve an overall test score of at least 60% or higher and be:
There are just 16 washing machines that are Eco Buys out of 307 we've tested.
These 16 include:
This relatively cheap washing machine comes with a longer-than-usual five-year warranty as standard on parts and labour.
Both its cottons and synthetics programs are energy efficient. Using the cottons wash four times a week would add roughly £37 a year to your energy bills, saving you money compared with many Best Buys.
It has a mammoth 12kg washing capacity, which is far more than most models.
Washing in bulk means that it does use a little more energy than most to run, but per kilogram of laundry it's far cheaper to run than most.
If you're happy to save up your washing for a full load, it means you could run just one or two washes per week rather than three or four, cutting your energy costs and helping the environment.
18 dishwashers out of the 180 we have reviews for are Eco Buys. These 18 include:
This dishwasher doesn't have an auto or normal program, but its eco program is so effective and efficient that it's easily an Eco Buy.
The average full-sized dishwasher will cost around £56 a year to run, based on five loads a week. This Bosch costs just £43, saving you £13 a year.
Not all Eco Buys cost the earth, but this Miele is very expensive, there's no denying that.
If you are after a premium model, though, it has lots of fancy features, including auto detergent dosing, smart connectivity and automatic door opening.
Its auto program is fabulously energy and water efficient. Using it five times a week would cost roughly £41 a year, saving you £15 compared with the average.
Miele dishwashers last longer than almost every other brand in our customer surveys, too, so you should expect it to hold you in good stead for well past a decade.
Your appliances have a big impact on the environment. More than 175,000 tonnes were thrown away in the UK in 2019, according to data from the Environment Agency. This is the equivalent of millions of washing machines and dishwashers going into landfill each year. Even if they're recycled, this process is resource and time-intensive.
A lot of carbon emissions also come from using your appliances day in, day out. In our , we estimated that the 40m washing machines in the UK contribute around 2.26m tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year. That's more than all of Manchester's annual CO2 emissions.
Buying a reliable and efficient appliance matters. The longer it lasts, the longer you can keep it out of landfill. A washing machine that's less likely to break down also saves you from the hassle of fixing it and minimises the risk of you being stuck without a washing machine. And a more efficient model will save you money every day on your utility bills.
To get to the final list of Eco Buys, we combine our consumer surveys with our rigorous product tests. Only models made by the brands that rate highest for long-lasting products in our annual consumer surveys and that we measure as the most efficient in our independent energy and water use lab tests can be Eco Buys.
You can often see big differences in how much products will cost to run. Eco Buys are kinder to both the planet and your bills. For example, an Eco Buy dishwasher could save you £15 a year on your energy bills compared with the average model.
Repairability is difficult to measure and something we haven't previously tested. But now, every washing machine and dishwasher we test is assessed for how easy it would be to fix, should it develop a common fault. Some are sealed shut and can't be easily fixed, even by professionals, meaning you're more likely to get rid of it when faults arise. A repairable appliance will not only be easier to repair, but potentially cheaper to fix, too.
At Which?, we're taking sustainability seriously. We recognise the unique position we are in as consumer champions to help you make buying decisions that will pay off for both you and the planet, and influence the top-level issues that can be a barrier to those choices.
We're investing in extra research resources, increasing the number of sustainability related features and investigations we're able to run each year. This means you'll see more sustainability research in Which? magazine, plus news and advice online.
Our policy team is working on sustainable food systems and digital obsolescence, and assessing the evidence to prioritise next steps. We'll get under the skin of regulatory challenges and barriers that stop us all making the most sustainable choices.
We're getting our own house in order, too. We're changing how Which? operates - how our offices use energy and how much waste we produce - andreviewing our pension investments.