Choosing energy-efficient appliances

Choosing energy-efficient appliances is an easy and effective way for an organisation to reduce its energy usage.

Cost: Low–medium

Difficulty: Low–medium

Impact: Medium–high

At some point your organisation is going to have to replace or upgrade its appliances anyway, so when you do, choose items that decrease your carbon footprint.

It may seem like a small thing, but investing in the right appliances for your not-for-profit can have a big impact on your energy use. It’s one of the key ways an organisation can reduce its reliance on electricity and make solid progress towards becoming carbon neutral.

It’s worth investing in efficient models of these appliances:

  • Air-conditioners
  • TVs
  • Fridges and freezers
  • Clothes dryers
  • Computers and computer monitors
  • Small appliances (kettles, toasters, microwaves etc)

When you need to replace or upgrade existing equipment, it’s worth doing a bit of research first. Find out what features fit your needs (this is especially important with big purchases like air-conditioning systems, fridges and freezers) and then find the most energy-efficient versions you can afford.

If your organisation has solar panels, you can decrease your carbon footprint even further by using appliances such as dryers and dishwashers when the sun is shining.

Energy ratings

The energy efficiency of an appliance is shown by a sticker with a number of stars on it, anywhere from one to 10. The more stars an appliance has, the more efficient it is. Most models are rated five stars or less, while super-efficient appliances have seven to 10 stars, with the extra stars displayed above the first five.

The rating system is designed to help consumers compare products at the point of sale. It’s an easy way to see at a glance how efficient a product is.

Some products, such as washing machines and dishwashers, also have a water efficiency rating. Air-conditioning units have a slightly different system.

A good way to compare the efficiency of different appliances is by using the calculator at the government E3 (Energy Equipment Efficiency) program website:

Second-hand and donated appliances

A lot of not-for-profits are offered second-hand donated appliances and sometimes it’s hard to say no. However, these appliances are often very inefficient and therefore expensive to run and are often close to the end of their usable life.

Sometimes it’s better to say no. It makes sense to budget for appliances so that you can find the ones that really suit your organisation. Factoring in the return on investment and the strategic goal of reducing emissions can help make upgrading appliances easier to justify.

Standby power mode

Reducing energy use isn’t just about using efficient appliances. It’s also about using them efficiently. Turning equipment off when it’s not in use by switching it off at the power point is a simple but surprisingly effective way of reducing power consumption. Standby mode can add upwards of 3% to your energy use.

Disposing of old appliances

Once it’s time to upgrade, you can find ways to dispose of old appliances through organisations such as PlanetArk ( and TechCollect ( Many retailers will also take your old appliance for free. This helps keep them out of landfill, with all usable bits being recycled.

Rebates and incentives

There are many incentive programs designed to encourage business and households to buy more efficient appliances. The Victorian Government has a program called Victorian Energy Upgrades that can help towards the cost of purchasing energy-efficient appliances.

Check out and for programs in your state or territory.


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