All the time we see people getting all hung up on the energy use of new appliances but is it true you’ll save money?
We’ve been here before, several times on this site trying to explain the whole energy saving thing to people and there are a number of articles on the site that delve into each in more depth with explanations for and against most products.
The reason that we continue to highlight this is that people really do seem to get it into their heads, probably due to the marketing blurb, that buying a new appliance is going to save them loads of money on energy use.
People seem to think that an energy saving appliance will help save the planet in some small way and this is done with the best of intentions.
In fact in some ways doing either might actually do more harm than good. Of course, we’ll tell you why.
Energy Use In Appliances
In the appliance industry we’ve got this thing called physics and in that there’s some rules that cannot be broken, almost anyone with a basic education knows these rules but we’re only going to look at one or two and try to keep this simple so as not to bore you, we hope.
So let’s say you’ve got a washing machine.
That machine need to use X amount of water in it that’s heated up to clean your laundry.
High school physics teaches us that to heat X amount requires Y amount of energy. It doesn’t matter what form that energy takes at all, it is of no consequence whatsoever what it is or how you got it, you need that amount of energy to heat up the water you need.
Whether you heat that in a combo-boiler, a solar thing, in the machine itself or whatever doesn’t really make any odds, the energy you need is the energy you need.
There’s no getting around the physics.
Now we get that people might come up with all manners of counterpoints but in the end all this is true and if you accept that then when you look at some of the claims you see in marketing materials such as, “Saves 20%” and all that sort of rubbish you will realise that, they are rubbish. If the physics is constant and the energy use by volume of water used is constant and you need X, Y or Z water to clean something at a set temperature then, you can’t save 20% or whatever, it’s not possible.
To heat a volume, cool a volume or whatever else uses energy in appliances the same applies. You can better insulate but, that’s really about all you can do and to do that you either increase the size or decrease the capacity. We’ll let you work out what the truth -vs- marketing is there.
You might be wondering how this is done then, how can lower energy use be claimed?
Simple, you cheat.
They Can’t Lie, Can They?
Oh hell yes they can!
Who’s going to challenge it?
Most people wouldn’t have a clue how much energy is being used or not and many people probably wouldn’t care enough to be bothered to check even if they could.
Now you might be thinking that someone in some government test lab is checking all these energy use claims are bang on, correct and all that but, there ain’t anyone checking anything. Yes, that’s right folks, none of this stuff is verified or checked or tested other than self-certification by the manufacturers.
You might have heard about the Volkswagen emissions scandal well, same thing happens here, only with different products.
Governments can’t afford to check them all and, the last time we heard that they did check some models met the claims on the official energy label guess what? 46% of them failed to meet the declared energy use.
That’s right, almost half of them weren’t even true.
So when people get all hung up on this we try to explain that, there’s a fair chance, they’re buying into a lie and that what’s being claimed is very likely not what is.
We know, people might get all upset and angry about this and want to know who’s doing something about it and the answer is, nobody.
Governments have little things like the odd financial crisis, the occasional war, infrastructure and so on to worry about, the appliances in your home they’re not so stressed out about. So if you think there’s some department checking all this stuff we’re afraid you’re wrong.
Spin & Hype
Now you know all that stuff you might better understand that a lot of the things you see around energy use is all about marketing and fudging the numbers so that they’re remotely plausible. Maybe, remotely plausible.
So they pull stunts like using the maximum capacity (even though you can’t physically use all that) then divide the energy use into energy used per kilo of load. So a 8kg washer you can actually fit in 5kg (ish) and have it, well you know, clean stuff appears to use 40% less energy than it actually will in the real world.
Or you compare against something like an old machine from twenty years or more ago that uses way more water etc but washes in less than half the time and then declare that the new one uses XX% less than the previous ones did. Mhm, lies much?
If people don’t question it and just blindly accept this garbage then you might think that you’re saving the planet, saving on your electricity bill or whatever your aim is but the reality is, you’re not.
You might, just might save a little through increased efficiencies but it won’t be much and none we’ve ever seen would probably even ever get remotely close to the claims that are often made.
There are exceptions, like heat pump dryers but that’s a debate in itself for two reasons, we don’t see domestic users making enough use of them to justify buying one and, they cost more in energy to make.
See that’s another inconvenient reality that many would like to gloss over, a physics rule, you can’t get out more energy than you put in, you only lose energy. Go look it up, smarter people than us came up with it and to date, they’ve not found ways around it.
So as manufacturers add whizz bang stuff it will often prove to be pretty pointless, it’s a soother for the conscience, not a scientific solution to energy use.
But it allows claims to be made, true or not. Trouble is, you need to work out what is or isn’t the truth.
Shiny New Thing
So all this plays into our world as repair guys and spare parts sellers like this…
When something breaks people will often seemingly try to justify buying a new one rather than repairing the old one in a myriad of different ways.
Of course the obvious one is the sheer cost to fix the broken machine but when it gets to borderline between repair and replace often times the promise of massive energy savings if they replace rather that repair can be a big factor in the choice.
Marketing people aren’t dumb, they know that.
They’re trying to do all that they can to attract you to whatever they’re punting and if they can do it through telling you you’ll save money on energy or save polar bears, guess what, they’ll tell you that. Whether it’s true or not, do you think they care?
We have to wonder, how many people have ditched a perfectly good machine that needs a minor fix as they’ve been led to believe that a new one will save them money?
How To Really Save Energy
We can sum this up real simple…
Don’t buy new stuff!!
When you do buy new stuff, buy stuff that’s good quality, will last and can be repaired.
This isn’t rocket science, it’s just common sense.
Increasingly however it's getting harder and harder to buy good appliances, a lot of them are just cheap throwaway junk.
And making all stuff uses resources, it uses masses of energy, uses packing, then you’ve got to ship it all about and all that uses a lot of energy and, we meant an awful lot.
Can you ever recover the production energy through use?
Well, go back to the physics rules, you can’t get any more energy out than you put in, what do you think?
You can get slight efficiency gains for sure but, save the production energy and the energy in use even over the whole life of a product, no, you can’t. Fuel source makes no odds, it’s physics.
The best you can do is minimise your use of energy, regardless of how you move it about be it production or use or disposal and yes, getting rid of the stuff people bin uses energy as well.
Sadly we’re afraid, insofar as we can see, there’s no magic cure.