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Publications archive - International Activities and Commitments


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Improving Appliance Energy Efficiency fact sheet cover

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Improving Appliance Energy Efficiency

Australian Greenhouse Office

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The Goal

To reduce the energy consumption of refrigerators and freezers and thereby reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Challenge

Refrigerators and freezers consume 40% of Australia’s residential energy. This high level of consumption, together with other household and residential appliances, is responsible for more than a quarter of net greenhouse emissions in Australia (excluding forestry and land use change). Consequently, improved energy efficiency of appliances and equipment is a key objective for the Australian Government.

This case study

The Equipment Energy Efficiency Programme (EEEP) is a collection of coordinated end-use energy efficiency programs in Australia and New Zealand, that deliver economic and environmental benefits to the community. It focuses on programs that require a nationally consistent framework to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse emissions from household appliances and equipment, and commercial and industrial equipment.

The main tools used by EEEP to improve appliance energy efficiency are mandatory Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), energy efficiency labeling (enforced by law) and voluntary measures, including endorsement labeling, training and support to promote the best available products. These tools have been used so as to improve the energy efficiency of refrigerators and freezers.

How did we make it happen?

The star rating energy label was first introduced for refrigerators and freezers in late 1986 and since that time the energy label has been the key method of communicating to consumers the energy efficiency of household refrigeration products.

Mandatory energy labelling is widely seen as a necessity as it forces the suppliers to declare, on a standardised basis, the energy consumption of their products so that consumers are able to compare them.

In 1999 Australian governments introduced MEPS for residential appliances and commercial and industrial equipment. These standards were matched to worlds ‘best regulatory practice’ in order to achieve the highest possible energy efficiency.

Matching these standards involved:

The first major products in Australia to have MEPS applied were refrigerators and freezers. The US MEPS levels for refrigerators and freezers were identified as the world’s most stringent, and Australian governments worked with local manufacturers and importers to finalize equivalent levels for implementation in 2005.

How far have we come?

Following the introduction of labelling in 1986, energy consumption of refrigerators and freezers was significantly reduced. Energy consumption reductions were enhanced with the introduction of MEPS in 1999, with an overall reduction in energy consumption of refrigerators of 67% in the period 1980 to 2006. In addition to a reduction in energy consumption, the combination of labelling and MEPS have delivered to the market refrigerators that use one third less energy but also provide additional services (e.g. frost free) and larger areas than older refrigerators.

What have we learnt?

The Equipment Energy Efficiency Programme has successfully driven on-going improvements to the efficiency of major energy using appliances and equipment.

A combination of strong policy initiatives and industry consultation has led to improved consumer awareness regarding energy consumption of refrigerators and freezers, allowing consumers to make educated purchasing decisions that not only benefits consumers financially but also benefits the environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions. With consumers making more educated and greenhouse friendly purchasing decisions, markets are driven towards ongoing improvements in the development and manufacture of more energy efficient appliances.

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