Where to spend and save on appliances to reduce energy bills

Child loading the dishwasher

RACV staff

Posted May 18, 2022


Prioritising an energy-efficient home is just smart thinking. Save money on your power bills by investing in key appliances in the home that have the greatest potential to reduce energy consumption.

Recent months have seen many Victorians tighten their budgets due to things like petrol, public transport and grocery prices rising.

It makes sense then that people are looking for more ways to cut costs and outgoing expenses, and when it comes to energy bills, household appliances, especially those designed to maximise energy efficiency, can have a huge impact on whether you spend a little, or a lot each month.


Which appliances to spend money on 

Clothes dryers and washing machines 

No doubt your washing machine and dryer are some of the bigger investments when it comes to household appliances, however what was once considered a huge energy (and money) sink, clothes dryer technology has come a long way recently, and same with washing machines.  

With many clothes dryer options on the market, it can be difficult to choose. While investing in a high-quality, energy-efficient heat pump dryer may feel like a big hit to the paycheque, its operating costs can make up for it in the long run.  

Even smaller households can see big savings with an efficient clothes dryer, and not just from energy use. Heat pump dryers collect the water from wet clothes and drain them down your laundry sink, meaning it’s perfect for poorly ventilated rooms and reduces the risk of water damage and mould. 

Similarly, washing machines are one of the biggest water users in the house, with top loaders being less efficient than a front loader. Nowadays, washing machines have been designed with water and energy efficiency as a priority, so paying a little bit more for a high-quality model means you’ll be saving on both your water and energy bills in the future. 

This handy tool can help you gage the water efficiency of washing machines if you’re looking to upgrade.  

washing machine and dirty clothes

Modern washing machines have been designed with water and energy efficiency as a priority. Image: Getty


LED downlights 

Old-school incandescent lights haven’t been a thing here in Australia since they were phased out in 2009, but there’s still a big difference between halogen or fluorescent lights, and actual LED downlights.  

Designed to save you energy and money, your average LED light can last up to 40 times longer than an equivalent halogen light, meaning that not only do they use less energy, but you’ll wind up having to replace them far less often as well. 

Dishwasher 

From a pure energy-saving perspective, dishwashers don’t vary too much. However, a good dishwasher will save you big dollars when it comes time to pay the water bill, and every drop of water saved is a worthwhile investment.  

Take the time to pick a dishwasher that suits your household and prioritise one that's water efficient as well as energy saving. 

Hot tip: save more money on your water bill by making sure the dishwasher is full before running a cycle – because no matter whether there is one dish in the dishwasher, or 100 dishes, the water usage is the same. 

TV 

Surprisingly, your TV can use more energy than your fridge or freezer, so it’s a smart move to invest in a TV that balances power consumption with good picture quality.  

Look for things like energy star ratings to compare brands and sizes – the more stars, the more efficient the TV is, therefore the less it will cost over the long run.  

While you're at it, have a look at what the TV screen is made of, as this can also impact household bills. Organic light-emitting diode (OLED), light-emitting diode (LED) and liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs generally use less energy than plasmas.  

Air fryer 

This one might seem out of the ordinary, but an air fryer could save you big dollars. Air fryers are small convection ovens ideal for cooking frozen meals or reheating leftovers, and they’re the perfect addition to any modern energy-saving kitchen as they require no preheating.  

Plus, air fryers use less energy overall than a traditional conventional oven because you’re not heating an entire oven for one sausage roll, but rather a smaller space that will heat up in less time. 

Don't give your oven the flick just yet though - part of the reason air fryers are so energy efficient is because of their size, so if you need to roast a whole chicken or bake something for a large family, you’ll appreciate the space an oven offers. 

Dehumidifier  

If your home is affected by dampness, leaks, or if there is the possibility of a flood, a dehumidifier could be the thing that saves you, and your wallet.  

Beneficial in reducing condensation, a dehumidifier removes moisture from the air, helping to prevent mould. This happens by drawing air in, then filtering and cooling it to condense moisture, before reheating the air, and then warmer and dryer air is released.  

It’s worth investing in a good dehumidifier, as cheaper models have fewer features, a smaller tank capacity and may not be as efficient at water removal, whereas a more expensive model generally has a larger tank capacity and works more effectively.  

Having said that, think about the space you need a dehumidifier for and the area size it needs to work in, because a big bulky dehumidifier consumes a lot more energy, and a smaller model might be all you need.  

Woman looking in a refridgerator

The fridge is an appliance where you may be able to save some money. Image: Getty.


Which appliances to save money on 

Fridge and freezer 

Fridges and freezers are, by and large, mostly the same across makes and models when it comes to energy efficiency.  

So long as you buy a fridge that’s the appropriate size for your household's needs, then it doesn’t really matter if you fork out more for the luxury edition with big capacity, or stick with the classic or budget model.  

At the end of the day, the change in energy use isn't that great, and if your fridge comes with more bells and whistles attached, you may find yourself paying more in energy costs per year than an entry-level model. 

Oven 

When it comes to size, features, and build quality, ovens can vary a great deal. But when considering energy saving options, you can't really go wrong with any modern electric oven. If you're looking for something to save you money on, any basic model will do. 

Toasters and electric kettles 

Like fridges, your toaster, kettle, and even coffee machine - staples of the kitchen though they may be - don't need to be expensive to save energy.  

If you're looking for a particular aesthetic, or if you just want a preview function or different temperature settings, then go right ahead. But if all you're after is a toaster that toasts and a kettle that boils, any recent model will tick that energy efficiency box. 

 

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