(with a big-up to Pete Dormand of Newcastle City Council first made this point…)
Efficiency is not sexy. Having a 6 star fridge does not get you any green street-cred compared with having a big shiny solar panel on your roof for the neighbors to ooh and aah at. But efficiency is by far the cheapest way to reduce emissions, which means that before spending thousands on solar panels, households should do everything they can to see if they could spend that money on efficiency improvements that would make a much bigger difference to reducing emissions per dollar.
example: cost of 1kw solar panel installed = $12,000, energy produced in one year = 1500kwh, cost per kwh saved per year = $8
But spend an extra $220 on a more efficient washing machine and save 548kwh per year, cost per kwh saved per year = $0.40
Energy efficiency here is 20 times cheaper!
Justification of the efficiency numbers using sokitt’s clothes washer efficiency comparison tool.
If you are looking to buy a top loading washing machine, you can pay $704 for a cheap 1.5 star one (just sort by energy rating and top-loading style and scroll to the bottom of the page)
But if you pay an extra $220 for the top rated top loader (3.5 stars) you will save $955 in electricity over 10 years. (look at the clothes washer at the top of the sokitt comparison grid when sorting by energy rating)
My opinion: the government (or a forward thinking retailer) should provide an interest free loan to cover the extra $220, so no-one has to buy the cheap, inefficient one.