Avoid­ing the en­ergy sap­pers

With power prices on a steady up­ward march, there’s an easy way of fig­ur­ing out what ap­pli­ances are the the stingi­est on the juice.

Element - - Lowering Your Energy Costs - By John Weekes

Talk about bub­ble-wrap build­ing in­su­la­tion and hy­brid cars is hog­ging the head­lines, and shrill de­bates over car­bon emis­sions and peak oil are still heard across the air­waves, but one en­ergy ef­fi­ciency sys­tem has been around for years. When you find out the av­er­age Kiwi fridge is about the same age as a trou­ble­some high school stu­dent, it’s lit­tle won­der some peo­ple thought New Zealan­ders had room to im­prove house­hold en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. But age wasn’t the only thing that made some prod­ucts in­ef­fi­cient. And it wasn’t just house­hold goods that our best-known en­ergy ef­fi­ciency rat­ing sys­tem chose to tar­get.

En­ergy Star was in­tro­duced in the United States in 1992. Thir­teen years later, New Zealand’s En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency and Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity launched the sys­tem in New Zealand. The blue stick­ers now seen on many home and of­fice ap­pli­ances were one out­come of this pro­mo­tion of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

The idea be­hind En­ergy Star was to help peo­ple iden­tify the most en­ergy ef­fi­cient home and of­fice gear on the mar­ket, said Terry Collins, EECA’s gen­eral man­ager, prod­ucts. But to make the project work, EECA needed to get the pri­vate sec­tor on board. A swag of com­pa­nies part­nered with EECA to pro­mote the pro­gramme. These in­cluded all ma­jor heat pump brands and nu­mer­ous home elec­tronic and of­fice equip­ment com­pa­nies.

Collins said the re­sponse from the re­tail sec­tor had also been pos­i­tive, with high street re­tail­ers and big ap­pli­ance sell­ers be­com­ing En­ergy Star part­ners. “They ac­tively pro­mote En­ergy Star prod­ucts in their cat­a­logues and ad­ver­tis­ing, pro­vide in­store in­for­ma­tion for their cus­tomers, and train their staff to help cus­tomers un­der­stand the ben­e­fits of choos­ing En­ergy Star prod­ucts.”

Crunch­ing the num­bers, Collins said nearly 1500 mod­els in 19 prod­uct cat­e­gories, from 65 dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers, now had the En­ergy Star.

Com­pa­nies who might have con­sid­ered stick­ing their head in the sand were out of sync with leg­is­la­tion. Nowa­days, all com­puter and print­ing de­vices bought by gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and agen­cies have to be En­ergy Star qual­i­fied. Out­side the civil ser­vice, Collins said en­ergy rat­ing la­bels were manda­tory on all heat pumps, dry­ers, wash­ing ma­chines, fridges and freez­ers avail­able for sale in New Zealand. For now, they’re vol­un­tary on TVs. In com­bi­na­tion with en­ergy rat­ing la­bels, En­ergy Star aimed to help peo­ple com­pare sim­i­lar sized prod­ucts, said Collins. Apart from a graded rat­ing from one to six stars, En­ergy Star of­fered a con­sump­tion fig­ure, mea­sured in kilo­watt hours per year.

Collins said ap­pli­ances alone used about a third of the av­er­age home’s elec­tric­ity bill, and as we bought more and more ap­pli­ances, that share grew. Lump in the ar­ray of of­fice ma­chines Ki­wis use ev­ery day and it was quickly ap­par­ent what a big im­pact in­ef­fi­cient, clunky old ap­pli­ances could have on the econ­omy. Collins said only the most ef­fi­cient prod­ucts – the top quar­ter in any cat­e­gory – qual­i­fied for the blue star.

As win­ter sent peo­ple scut­tling in­doors, tak­ing com­fort in heaters, heat pumps, hot food and the TV, surg­ing power bills that fol­lowed could be a nasty shock. And apart from slash­ing power bills, en­ergy ef­fi­cient prod­ucts re­duced the strain on New Zealand’s en­ergy sources – whether coal, gas or hy­dro­elec­tric. ”Be­cause they’re highly en­ergy ef­fi­cient, prod­ucts with the blue En­ergy Star mark cost less to run, can help re­duce house­hold power bills, and are bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment than other prod­ucts,” said Collins.

“…the av­er­age Kiwi fridge is about the same age as a trou­ble­some high school stu­dent…”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.