Before sealing the deal on shiny new appliances in this year’s Black (or green) Friday sales, Gen Less is encouraging Kiwis to do their research into which model is right for them– to save money and energy in the long run.
Buying a new household appliance like a washing machine or fridge can be an unforeseen expense that we need to fork out for, sometimes urgently.

To help New Zealanders buy smarter and greener, Gen Less has developed a simple checklist to arm Kiwis for the big sales – including what to look for in store, and important but not well understood features to consider, like energy efficiency.

“If you have the means, seasonal sales moments can be a great opportunity to buy products not usually in your price range – that are cheaper to run, and ultimately can reduce the carbon footprint of your household,” said EECA’s Manager of Standards and Regulations, Fiona Ryan.

“We have a few suggestions to help Kiwis avoid making ‘on the spot’ appliance decisions that will use lots of energy and can accidently increase monthly bills too.

“Choosing the best tech in your budget, when you come to replace or upgrade appliances, pays off in more ways than one, and is made easier if you’ve done a bit of research.”

Data from EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), the agency that backs Gen Less, has revealed the potential savings on energy bills from buying more efficient models.

In the year leading up to March 2023, New Zealanders purchased 4.3 million new energy-regulated products – that’s one every seven and a half seconds.

Most major appliances, like fridges, dishwashers or heat pumps, will have an Energy Rating Label on it. The more stars, the more efficient the appliance is compared to a similar product of the same size.

“It’s key to remember the cost of your new appliance isn’t just what’s on the price tag – you should also think about what it’s going to cost to run that appliance month to month,” Ryan said.

Using a 416L fridge freezer is one example (with a 278L fridge and 138L freezer) – assuming you’re paying around $0.25 /kWh for your energy, you’ll save around $105 a year, as a conservative estimate, on your bills if you buy one with 7 stars on the label instead of 1. Around $1150 over its expected 11-year lifespan.

“Your bills will be even lower if you can make a smaller fridge/freezer work for your home, as your energy use also depends on the size of the model,”’ Ryan said.

EECA’s quarterly consumer monitor tracks public attitudes and action on energy and climate change – and shows that kiwis are also increasingly seeing efficient purchases as a meaningful way to take climate action. In the last quarter, 59% of Kiwi consumers are making the choice to buy more efficient appliances – a 7% increase from the last quarter.

“Efficient appliances really are an unsung hero when you look at energy savings on a national scale,” Ryan said.

“Lowering electricity demand across households at peak times, means it will be easier to manage our highly renewable electricity system, with less fossil fuel use and fewer expensive upgrades.”

Ryan says if energy-using products weren’t regulated for energy efficiency, it would have cost New Zealanders around $39 million more in energy costs in that year. That’s equivalent to the annual energy use of 37,000 kiwi homes.

“So, before you hit the shops to buy new appliances – we are encouraging Kiwis to check out our Gen Less checklist for buying smarter this Black Friday,” Ryan said.

Shopping smart in the summer sales:

Compare energy ratings - Look for appliances with more stars on the Energy Rating Label compared to others of a similar size, and a lower annual energy consumption figure. These two measures will help you figure out which models will cost you less to run.

Consider size – Be sure to only buy what you need in your home. A larger fridge, for example, will cost you more to run, so it pays to buy the right size for your family.

Use the Gen Less efficient appliance calculator – Compare products to find the one that will get you the most savings and meet your needs.

Efficient appliance calculator | Gen Less(external link)

Research energy saving features - Take the time to look into the energy saving features that different appliances offer. Look for features like energy saving modes, automated cycle times, spin cycles and smart features.

Check product buying guides - Consumer NZ has detailed guides to help you to make the best purchase for your needs – just search their website for the appliance you’re after,

Consumer NZ | Expert product tests, research and advocacy - Consumer NZ(external link)

Consider lifecycle costs – Look beyond the price tag and consider the lifetime costs of owning an appliance. Although more efficient appliances may have a higher upfront cost, they usually save you money over their lifespan.

Shop the sales – When you do need to replace or upgrade your appliance, take advantage of price cuts to buy the most efficient model within your price range. While it could cost a little more upfront, this can help you to decrease your cost of living by lowering your electricity bills.

For more helpful energy saving tips - For everyone | Gen Less(external link)

Additional information

Efficient appliances and carbon emissions

  • A more efficient model of appliance requires less energy to operate, which helps to lower electricity demand, placing less strain on the electricity grid at peak times.
  • The individual emissions reduction for switching out appliances is highest when replacing an appliance that runs on gas with one that runs on electricity. However, the real environmental benefits of energy-efficient appliances come down to long term, collective use among Kiwis.
  • Since 2002, around 3,500,000 tonnes of CO2 have been avoided by selling more efficient models of products in New Zealand and removing the worst ones from the market through regulations.

About Gen Less

  • Backed by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), Gen Less encourages New Zealanders to live more with less harmful and more efficient energy use, and to take positive climate action.
  • Gen Less is a resource for people and businesses – you'll find stories, tools, and a whole range of actions you can take (particularly related to how we move, how we do business, and how we live).
  • Across its programmes, EECA takes an energy efficiency first approach – helping businesses understand how to use existing equipment and processes as efficiently as possible to reduce overall energy use. This reduces energy use and costs, with a flow on to their emissions, and makes fuel switching more achievable and cheaper later.

About the data

  • The Gen Less Quarterly Consumer Monitor research programme monitors the mood of the nation relating to climate change, energy emissions and efficiency, and topics like electric vehicles. Every quarter, we survey 750 adult New Zealanders to track their beliefs, behaviours and attitudes to energy use and climate change. This survey canvassed New Zealanders from July - September 2023, and is due to be published imminently.
  • EECA calculates the annual energy and cost savings for the year by tracking improvements in the energy efficiency of products that they regulate, under the Energy Efficiency (Energy Using Products) Regulation 2002.

Product sales decrease, but energy efficiency improves | EECA