The cost of energy and our impact on the environment is an enormous concern in today’s Australia, so it’s obvious why energy efficiency can play a huge part in how you choose which appliances to buy. No doubt you’ve seen the energy efficiency labels, but what do they mean and how did they get there? The primary energy efficiency labelling program in Australia is the Star Rating Scheme and is the only label that manufacturers are required to place on their home appliances. It’s administered by each state government and regulated by the National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee (NAEEEC) so that standards are consistent across the country. With this scheme, more stars mean more energy efficient and also includes an estimation of kilowatt hours used per year of average use, so you can easily calculate roughly how much the appliance will add to your bills if you know the price of energy. When appliances are tested for energy efficiency, the final rating is mostly determined by the total energy consumption in relation to the appliance’s size, though the actual calculations used are much more complicated than that. While manufacturers do the testing themselves, the regulation requires that a sample product is provided on request so any suspiciously low results are sure to result in harsh penalties. It’s important to remember that the Star Rating System is comparative, which means that energy efficiency is judged in comparison to other products in the same category. For example, comparing an air conditioner with an incandescent lamp is entirely meaningless, no matter what their respective star ratings are. Also worth noting is that the minimum standards were recently upgraded to reflect the advancement of technology, so an average rating this year is actually more energy efficient than the same rating twenty years ago. Additionally, you may also see an endorsement label from the Australian Greenhouse Office called the Top Energy Saver Award. This label shows that the product is in the top 5-10% energy efficient products for that year, and is a great indication of the most efficient appliances.