Efficient appliances a bright spot in our carbon challenge

mike underhill
Mike Underhill, Chief Executive, EECA

By: Mike Underhill, Chief Executive, EECA

The Paris climate change conference has energised the global impetus to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerated debate in New Zealand about where our climate change efforts should be focused.

While progress on climate change often seems too hard, I’d like to wave a flag for one area where progress over a few years has made a real difference to energy use, carbon emissions and savings to consumers.

New data on the sale of products and appliances shows people are choosing to buy more efficient models. In the last financial year we saved the amount of electricity used by Invercargill – more than 209 gigawatt-hours. This translates to $50m in savings to consumers and, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, roughly the amount of CO2 produced by 10,000 New Zealand cars over a year.

Buying appliances that are more efficient helps New Zealanders enjoy the benefits of warm, dry and energy efficient homes. They are often no more expensive, and can be a lot cheaper to run.

EECA’s Energy Rating Label and ENERGYSTAR labels help shoppers factor in energy efficiency when they buy new appliances, while our minimum energy performance standards keep poor performing and inefficient appliances out of the country.

More than seven million appliances and products subject to labelling and regulation were sold during the 2014/15 financial year. They included heat pumps, televisions, computers, whiteware and more than four million certain types of light bulbs.

Since the programme began in 2002, energy efficiency labelling and regulation have influenced sales of 54 million products, creating $560m in savings to the country, and saving the carbon produced by more than 300,000 cars in a year.

The success of the programme is backed up by a recent study examining energy use in New Zealand 2000-2030, commissioned by trans-Tasman Equipment Energy Efficiency Programme.

It found energy use in the average New Zealand household has fallen by 10% since 2000, even though we use a growing number of appliances and gadgets every day.

While other factors play a role, there is evidence to show energy efficiency is the major contributor.

The study predicts the average energy use per dwelling will continue to decline to 2030, and along with that a similar decrease for greenhouse emissions from households.

Our homes are responsible for about 11% of New Zealand’s total energy use and 7% of energy-related emissions. It’s a small slice of the pie compared to industry or transport, but one that’s seen notable progress.

When buying a new electrical product we have so many choices, even with the humble light bulb. Most of us consider factors such as colour, size and price. It’s now so easy for energy efficiency to be part of that decision-making process with the Energy Rating and ENERGYSTAR labels. As consumers, we have the power to make a real difference, through our actions and investments.

Residential Baseline Study for New Zealand 2000 – 2030 - Energy Rating website

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