IEA Study Shows How to Save Energy and Reduce Harmful Emissions by Using More Efficient Domestic Appliances

Electrical appliances are the fastest growing energy users, after automobiles in OECD countries. Despite the existence of major energy efficiency programs in OECD countries, residential electrical appliances account for 30% of electricity consumption and 12% of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on existing appliances policy, demand is projected to grow 13% by 2010 and 25% by 2025.

A new study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) "Cool Appliances: Policy Strategies for Energy-Efficient Homes," released in Paris today, shows that additional efficiency gains of up to 30% are possible by targeting the least life-cycle cost for appliances from 2005 onwards as the minimum efficiency performance standard.

By adopting such standards, IEA Member countries could save some 322 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2/year by 2010 and 642 TWh of electricity by 2010. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, this would be the equivalent of removing over 100 million cars from IEA roads. Targeting the least life-cycle cost for residential appliances could achieve up to 30% of IEA Member countries targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

More importantly, these savings can be achieved at a negative cost to society. The extra costs of more efficient appliances are offset by savings in running costs over the life of the appliance. In the US, each tonne of CO2 avoided in this way in 2020 will save consumers $65; while in Europe, each tonne of CO2 avoided will save consumers € 169 (reflecting higher electricity costs and currently lower efficiency standards in Europe). Significant savings are possible despite widely diverging situations in each IEA country.

The report provides a projection, for each type of appliance, of residential electricity consumption. This is the first stock model available and is intended to provide guidance for policy makers in each Member country.
Cool Appliances: Policy Strategies for Energy-Efficient Homes analyses:

  • Existing appliance efficiency policies in IEA Member countries, including the comprehensive US appliance standards programme, the Top Runner Program in Japan and several European programmes.
  • International best practices for appliance efficiency policies. The report concludes that a combination of minimum energy performance standards and labelling, as well as an active and effective institutional framework and voluntary measures is the most effective approach. Policies and standards should be adapted to each individual appliance market.
  • The rapid growth of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the home. These devices, many of which consume power when switched off (in stand-by mode), are responsible for a large share of the projected residential energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions in IEA Member countries. Technical options exist to improve the energy performance of home ICT if innovative efficiency policy standards are set.

International collaboration and co-operation is becoming increasingly important in appliance policy. Greater transparency and comparability in appliance energy performance standards, test procedures and labelling would bring benefits for producers, consumers and governments alike.