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Energy Saving White Goods
Escalating energy prices have put the squeeze on many households in the last few years, with energy suppliers putting bigger bills down to higher wholesale costs.
According to MoneySupermarket research, more than two thirds of households have turned off their heating even though it was cold to save money on their energy bills.
There are other ways to lower your bills without sacrificing comfort though, such as switching your appliances for new ones which are more energy efficient.
If they have poor energy efficiency ratings, old washing machines, refrigerators and freezers could be costing you money every time you use them.
Here's a guide to how the ratings work, how energy efficient white goods can save you money and how your old appliances could be costing you.
Energy efficiency ratings
Electrical appliances like ovens, dishwashers, dryers and fridges all have to carry an EU Energy Label which gives you an indication of how efficient (or inefficient) they are.
They are graded from A to G on their efficiency, with A being the most efficient and G being the least. Fridge freezers have three extra ratings at the top end, A+, A++ and A+++.
The grade is based on how many units of energy they use per hour (their kWh consumption). The lower their kWh consumption is, the more efficient the appliance is.
The rating will be displayed on a sticker on the appliance which shows a series of colour co-ordinated bars from A+++ to G.
An appliance may also carry an Energy Savings Trust Recommended Certification Mark, awarded to only the most efficient appliances. The Energy Savings Trust is an impartial service which gives advice on how to reduce carbon emissions and water usage.
Ratings do vary from one appliance to another though - for example, washing machines have three efficiency ratings, for energy consumption, washing and spinning. Washing machines with an A for each of the three ratings (AAA rated machines) are the most efficient and will save you the most money.
If you're not upgrading your appliance to a more efficient model, you can improve your efficiency by lowering the temperature you wash at and not putting on a half load of washing.
Refrigerators and freezers
As you have to leave your fridge and freezer on around the clock, it makes sense to make sure they are as efficient as possible.
Ratings for appliances that keep things cold work a little differently to other white goods however, as they are rated on how energy they are in relation to their size, rather than kWh consumption. Generally speaking, this means the bigger the fridge or freezer's internal volume, the more it will cost to run.
Hanging your wet washing on an outdoor washing line is the most efficient way to dry your clothes because it's free, but not everyone has the space and sometimes the Great British weather can be prohibitive.
If you can't avoid using a tumble dryer, upgrading to an A-rated model will make sure you're getting the most for your money.
Again, doing the dishes by hand is perhaps more efficient as it uses less water and energy, but if you can't avoid using a dishwasher then make sure yours has a high a rating as possible.
Also, make sure that your dishwasher is as full as possible before you put it on.
Only electric ovens will have an EU energy label, rated from A to G for efficiency. You won't find one of these labels on a gas oven or a microwave.