By making clever appliance purchases, you can lower your cost of living while reducing your household emissions (and new appliances look pretty good too) – it's a win-win-win!

Shop smarter

Have you been waiting for the perfect opportunity to splash out on that new front loader washing machine or fridge freezer? Flash sales can be a great opportunity to purchase a model that isn’t usually in your price bracket, which can often be more energy efficient. But before you walk into the shop, be prepared and do your research first to find the best model for you.

We’ve crunched the numbers and developed a checklist for you – to help you buy smarter.

Your checklist for smarter shopping

The pressure to decide quickly in store can tempt us to make on the spot purchases without considering the costs beyond the price tag – like how much energy your new appliance will chew through when you start using it, and how much money it can cost you to run (or save you) depending on what you choose.

  • 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.
  • Use the efficient appliance calculator – Compare products to find the one that will get you the most savings and meet your needs.
  • 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.
  • Consider size – Be sure to only buy what you need in your home. A larger fridge/freezer may cost you more to run, so it pays to buy the right size for your family.
  • Consider lifecycle costs – Look beyond the price tag and consider the lifetime costs of owning an appliance. Although more efficient appliances might have a higher upfront cost, they usually save you money over their lifespan.
  • Shop the sales – Take advantage of price cuts to buy the most efficient model within your price range – this can help you to decrease your cost of living by lowering your electricity bills.
  • Compare water efficiency labels – To save on water use, look for appliances with more stars on the Water Efficiency Label. This measure helps you choose appliances that use less water to do the same job.  

Efficient Appliance Calculator

Consumer New Zealand(external link)

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! 

Regulated for energy efficiency 

Certain energy using products are regulated through labelling and performance requirements. This means Kiwis have access to the best products on the market – helping them save on their energy bills. 

By regulating these products for energy efficiency, it saved New Zealanders around $39 million in collective energy costs in the year leading up to March 2023. That’s the equivalent to the annual energy use of 37,000 Kiwi homes! 


Regulated appliance sales in New Zealand in the year to March 2023.

Energy Rating Labels

When it comes to maximising the savings on your new household tech, understanding Energy Rating Labels is a great place to start – they help you to compare the efficiency and running costs of similar appliances.  
The more stars, the more efficient the appliance is compared to a similar product of the same size.  

Energy Rating Labels

Buying more efficient products

The star rating of an Energy Rating Label alone won’t tell you how much an appliance will cost to run – just that it will be cheaper than those similar models with fewer stars.

The trick is to look at this along with the annual energy consumption on the label, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The lower this number, the less it will cost you to run. 

There are further savings to be made by factoring in the way you’ll use your appliances, and what the specific needs are for you and your family. Size is a big one – larger appliances like fridges and freezers will use more energy to run. If you are a two-person household, you’ll likely be able to meet your needs with a smaller model than a family of seven.

Many appliances also include energy saving functions - for example, washing machines often have high-speed spin cycles that remove most of the water from your clothes before you put them in the dryer, and dryers often have sensors that automatically stop the cycle as soon as it detects our clothes are dry, rather than running unnecessarily. 

Compare appliances

The Gen Less Efficient Appliance Calculator can help with easy comparison of products with Energy Rating Labels in New Zealand.

Why efficiency matters

Your heating and hot water use make up about 2/3 of your home electricity bill, while the rest is gobbled up by powering all the other appliances we have in our homes. Most of these are considered a necessity, rather than a luxury – but our washing machines, dryers, fridge-freezers, stoves, and ovens all run on either electricity or natural gas, depending on the type of cooking and laundry appliances we have in our homes.

Our electricity in New Zealand is largely generated by renewable sources like hydro or wind – in an average year, around 80%. However, the remaining 20% is still powered using fossil fuels like coal, diesel, and natural gas.

Better, more efficient appliances are becoming more readily available in New Zealand. These better rated products use less electricity to get those jobs done – costing you less in energy bills. On a national scale, they also help to smooth out electricity peaks that make us more likely to tap into fossil fuels to meet electricity demand. So by buying a more efficient version of an appliance, you can help reduce New Zealand’s overall emissions too.

Internationally, modern product regulations are providing great benefits to global energy systems, at a low cost to governments and industry. Households and businesses around the world are saving billions of dollars and avoiding hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, thanks to product efficiency.  

What's in it for you?

More efficient home appliances offer us huge benefits, that go well beyond savings on your monthly energy bills. Choosing better tech is a smart choice, and even smarter when you catch a good sale.  

How much you can save – we break down the numbers

  • Household fridges/freezers

    416 L fridge (278 L) freezer (138 L)
    1 star vs. 7 stars
    Usage – always on
    Annual cost savings – $105
    Emissions savings – 70%
    Lifetime cost savings – $1,155 (11 years)

  • Freezers

    250L freezer
    1 star vs. 4 stars
    Usage – always on
    Annual cost savings – $45
    Emissions savings – 45%
    Lifetime cost savings – $495 (11 years)

  • Washing machines

    8kg washing machine
    2 star vs. 5 stars
    Usage – Once a day (warm wash)
    Annual cost savings – $100
    Emissions savings – 66%
    Lifetime cost savings – $1000 (10 years)

  • Dryers

    7kg clothes dryer
    2 stars vs. 9 stars
    Usage – Once a week
    Annual cost savings – $48
    Emissions savings – 66%
    Lifetime cost savings - $528 (11 years)

  • Dishwashers

    14 place setting dishwasher
    3 stars vs. 4.5 stars
    Usage – Once a day
    Annual cost savings – $36
    Emissions savings – 43%
    Lifetime cost savings – $358 (10 years)

  • Computer monitors

    27” computer monitor
    3 star vs. 7 stars
    Usage – 10 hours per day
    Annual cost savings – $23
    Emissions savings – 63%
    Lifetime cost savings – $184 (8 years)

  • Television

    50” Television
    2.5 star vs. 7 stars
    Usage – 10 hours per day
    Annual cost savings – $75
    Emissions savings – 63%
    Lifetime cost savings – $600 (8 years)

Savings are based on an energy cost of $0.25 /kWh, and assumed appliance lifespan outlined by Consumer NZ(external link)

Read next

View all Articles

  • Smart homes – the future of home energy management

    New Zealand homes are set to get smarter, with energy-saving technology that will keep power bills down. Find out how you can get your home ready.

    • Efficient appliances

    17 October 2022

  • Ways to save energy at home

    While you're at home, you might be using a bit more power than normal. Take a look at these quick and easy ways to save energy.

    • Heating
    • LEDs
    • Hot water

    19 August 2021

  • Make your heat pump work smarter, not harder

    Heat pumps are a low-cost and efficient way to heat your home. But are you getting the most out of yours? Check out our tips on ways to make sure your heat pump is working as smartly as possible.

    • Heating

    28 May 2021