More than half of consumers now consider sustainability when buying and using common household appliances, Which? research has found, as it unveils its latest Eco Buy products that can save customers up to £120 on their energy bills.
A £180 oven and £470 fridge-freezer are among more than 60 products to be awarded a Which? Eco Buy, as the consumer watchdog expands its endorsement scheme to recognise products with the least environmental impact to more appliances.
Consumers are increasingly aware of their carbon footprint and in a new Which? survey more than half (56%) said sustainability issues do influence their choice and use of white goods such as washing machines.
Which? introduced Eco Buys in 2020 to help consumers find products that will have less of an impact on the environment. The new endorsement and testing approach – which assesses the repairability, longevity and energy-efficiency of products – was first applied to washing machines and dishwashers, but will now include built-in ovens, fridge-freezers and tumble dryers.
Fridges and fridge-freezers are some of the most expensive household appliances, yet millions are thrown away each year by UK households and Which? research suggests there is a 10-year difference between the models with the shortest and longest lifespans. As they run 24 hours a day, fridge-freezers also consume a lot of electricity and can add up to £163 a year to energy bills.
However, an Eco Buy fridge-freezer can cost only £42 a year to run, on average. A £470 Eco Buy Liebherr fridge-freezer costs £41 a year to run – a £120 saving compared to the most energy-hungry fridge-freezer.
Tumble-dryers are another appliance that can increase carbon footprint and add around £100 to energy bills every year. Plans to make energy label ratings tougher could soon mean vented and condenser dryers, which are notoriously inefficient, would be unlikely to qualify for even the lowest rank on the new A to G ranked energy labels, which will replace the A+++ to D ranking.
Which? has changed the way it tests and reviews tumble dryers, and only more energy-efficient heat pump dryers will be eligible for an Eco Buy recommendation. While heat-pump dryers tend to be more expensive to buy, an Eco Buy Samsung tumble dryer only adds £30 to energy bills a year – a £60 saving compared to energy-hungry condenser models, which could cost £90 to run.
Many people also continue to assume eco-friendly appliances can come at a premium cost, claims Which? However, the Beko Aeroperfect oven is the cheapest Eco Buy product at just £179 and energy-efficient costing just £44 a year to run – a £16 saving compared to the most inefficient ovens.
The government is set to introduce new rules this summer that will require manufacturers to make spare parts for electrical items such as fridges and washing machines available, to help tackle premature obsolescence and reduce carbon emissions.
Says Michael Briggs, Head of Sustainability at Which?:
“We know consumers want to reduce their carbon footprint and make more sustainable choices, and that is why we are evolving the way we test products, factoring in how long they last and their energy efficiency, to help consumers reduce their environmental impact and save money at the same time.
“The government is set to introduce new regulations this summer that will require manufacturers to make spare parts for some products available. However, we believe these rules should also be expanded to cover more appliances such as tumble dryers and ensure the spare parts are available for the lifespan of each product.”