Powering the home: how appliances stack up

LOOKING for ways to cut your surging household electricity bill?

Consumer group Choice crunched the costs for Fairfax Media on the average annual running tab for the latest models of 11 popular appliances.

Electric hot-water heaters continue to sap the budget more than any other standard device, costing $593 a year, even based on an off-peak rate of 12.77¢ per kilowatt-hour - half the 26¢ rate used to calculate the cost of other appliances.

Every large air conditioner unit you add to your home will cost almost as much in power as a water heater, or $534 each. That's roughly 50 times the cost to spin a ceiling fan.

The difference between a large fridge with a capacity of 525 litres or more compared with a 380-litre or smaller model is some $55 a year - or about the annual cost of running your electric oven and kettle.

All up, the newest appliances will cost about $2000 a year to run - a lot less than the devices you probably currently own.

''Television, fridge and air conditioner efficiency requirements have been tightened significantly over the past few years,'' Matt Levey, head of campaigns at Choice, said.

''This means the difference between an efficient and an inefficient appliance can be quite significant,'' he said. ''For example, an inefficient TV could cost more than $180 a year to run - $100 more than the recent average model.''

Televisions, as it happens, will be the next appliance due for a government energy efficiency review, in part because recent rapid technology improvements have pushed many brands to six-star or better ratings.

From next April, Australia will also become the first OECD country to regulate minimum energy performance standards for computers, pending agreement from the states, said Mark Dreyfus, parliamentary secretary for climate change and energy efficiency.

''There is a strong crossover of functionality between TVs and monitors,'' he said.

''The labelling scales have been harmonised, meaning the new star rating for a monitor of a certain size should equate to the revised label for a TV of the same size.''

More efficient appliances alone, though, don't guarantee a shrinking household power bill, not least because electricity prices are increasing at least as fast as energy consumed dwindles for each new device.

''We have also found more gadgets than ever before to plug in - like tablets, gaming consoles, modems and mobile phones,'' Mr Levey said.

For more on how the numbers were crunched, go to www.choice.com.au/energychoice

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