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Refrigerators and freezers have been required to display an energy label since 1986 and to meet minimum energy efficiency levels since 1999. As a result, refrigerators and freezers are now 70 per cent more efficient than they were 30 years ago.
By law, every refrigerator and freezers that is sold or supplied within Australia and New Zealand must meet a minimum level of energy efficiency. Each refrigerator and freezer in a store must also display an energy rating label.
The Energy Rating Label tells you how much energy a refrigerator or freezer uses per year and gives you a star rating that allows you to compare its efficiency to refrigerators or freezers of the same size and type.
Is your product regulated?
Find out which GEMS determination or regulatory standard applies to your product
All products covered by energy efficiency regulations must meet certain requirements before they can be supplied or sold in Australia or New Zealand.
Depending on the product, this may include Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), energy rating label requirements or both. There are specific requirements relevant to Australia and New Zealand.
Refrigerators and freezers imported for sale are required to meet MEPS and Energy Rating Label requirements. The full technical details for MEPS and the ERL are specified in AS/NZS4474.2: 2009.
Which refrigerators and freezers are covered?
The following groups of refrigerators and freezers are covered under the requirements. Please refer to the standard AS/NZS4474.1:2007 for more detailed information.
- Group 1: Refrigerator without a low temperature compartment, automatic defrost
- Group 2: Refrigerator with or without an ice making compartment, manual defrost
- Group 3: Refrigerator with a short or long term frozen food compartment, manual defrost
- Group 4: Refrigerator-freezer, fresh food compartment is automatic defrost, freezer manual defrost (“partial automatic defrost”)
- Group 5B: Refrigerator-freezer, both compartments automatic defrost (frost free), bottom mounted freezer
- Group 5T: Refrigerator-freezer, both compartments automatic defrost (frost free), not side by side configuration or bottom mounted freezer (i.e. top mounted freezer)
- Group 5S: Refrigerator-freezer, both compartments automatic defrost (frost free), side by side configuration
- Group 6U: Separate vertical freezer, manual defrost
- Group 6C: Separate chest freezer, all defrost types
- Group 7: Separate vertical freezer, automatic defrost (frost free)
For these group descriptions, a ‘compartment’ means a compartment with a separate external door or and internal sub-compartment.
FAQs: the Energy Rating Label on refrigerators and freezers
The energy rating label can give you all the information you need to select the most efficient and lowest cost refrigerator and freezer (in terms of running costs) that also meets your needs.
As the price of electricity can change over time and is based on where you live, the cost of running a refrigerator and freezer is not given on the label. Instead, the label gives you the amount of energy the refrigerator or freezer uses in kilowatt hours (kWh).
You can calculate the annual cost of running the refrigerator or freezer by multiplying the kWh figure by the cost of electricity in your area.
For example, the refrigerator you are looking at says on the label that it uses 400kWh per year. You know from your electricity bill that the price of electricity in your area is 29 cents per kWh. Simply multiple those two numbers together to find the cost of running that refrigerator and freezer each year. In this example, that would equal $116 per year.
As a refrigerator can run for up to 20 years, the cost of running a less efficient refrigerator can exceed the cost of buying it, long before it needs replacing.
The number of stars on the label also helps you compare the efficiency of one refrigerator or freezer to another of the same volume and similar type. For example, a 300-litre refrigerator/freezer combination with 4.5 stars is more efficient than another 300-litre refrigerator/freezer combination with 3 stars.
Unfortunately, the number of stars cannot be used to compare refrigerator and freezers of significantly different volumes because the size of the appliance is used to calculate how many stars it can receive.
Both the energy consumption and the number of stars can be used together to give you all the information you need about the energy performance of the refrigerator or freezer. This information can then be taken into account in your purchasing decision.
For example, you are looking at two different 245-litre refrigerator/freezers combinations that have all the features you want.
You would choose Model A as it is more efficient than Model B because it uses less energy to get more stars.
Guide: The Energy Rating Label
A simple, easy-to-read guide that explains how to interpret the Energy Rating Label and how purchasing a more efficient appliance can save money on energy bills.