Whether you want to save the planet or just save on electricity bills, energy-efficient appliances are the way to go, says Suvasini Sridharan

Conserving energy is the need of the hour. That might sound a bit dramatic, but there’s no getting away from the facts: population is increasing, natural resources are dwindling and global warming is a threat. That should be reason enough to switch to energy-efficient home appliances. But if that doesn’t do it for you, then use them because they reduce your electricity bills.

Kamal Nandi, executive vice-president, Godrej Appliances, puts things in perspective. “Whether it is one of our energy-efficient air conditioners or refrigerators, the premium spent on the product would have been paid back by your savings on electricity by the end of the first year.” He goes on to say that the 1.5 tonne air conditioner from Godrej consumes less power than even a hair dryer.

Power savings

A number of features are incorporated into appliances to make them energy efficient and green, and depending on how well they meet the criteria, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) gives star ratings ranging between one and five. The parameters for the star rating are set down by BEE, which comes under the Ministry of Power. Underwriters Laboratory (UL), the global product safety testing and certification organisation, has tied up with BEE for testing Indian manufacturers. “In fans, there is an energy saving potential of Rs.310 per year if you use a 5-star product versus a no-star product,” explains R.A. Venkitachalam, vice-president and MD, UL (Emerging Markets). “In the case of refrigerators, savings can reach Rs.2,000 a year for a 250 l model.”

Fisher and Paykel, the New Zealand-based appliance manufacturer that recently started retailing in India, is energy focused. “We use adaptive defrost mechanisms in refrigeration that activate only when needed and respond to how consumers use their fridge,” says Sanjeev Wadhwa, country manager, Fisher & Paykel India. “Our Smart Drive washing machines use intelligent electronics and unique direct drive motors to sense water usage and fabric type and optimise the washing action.”

Samsung refrigerators are reportedly up to 26 per cent more energy efficient than conventional refrigerators, while the LED TV consumes less than 40 per cent the power used by an LCD set, according to Mahesh Krishnan, vice-president, Home Appliances, Samsung India. “We have incorporated innovative Digital Inverter Compressor in select frost-free refrigerator models, while our washing machines use EcoBubble and Wobble technologies to make them energy-efficient.”

Staying green

However, with innovations in technology, the parameters for a particular star rating can change. “The table for star labeling changes over time,” says Venkitachalam. “Last year’s 2-star rated split ACs have become 1-star rated this year.” Appliance technology has to be constantly upgraded.

This is matched by much more public awareness about energy efficiency today. While BEE has taken steps to educate the public, we are also flooded with advertisements about water-saving washing machines, refrigerators that beep if the door is left open too long, or energy-saving fans and geysers. “We have seen an increasing demand for star-rated products,” says Krishnan. “We expect our 4- and 5-star rated products to constitute 25-30 per cent of sales this year.” For Godrej, 77 per cent of its appliances product line falls in the green category.

“The use of energy-efficient products in India has increased from 0.5 per cent to 20 per cent in the last five years,” says Venkitachalam. A BEE 2009-10 report finds that the use of energy-efficient appliances in India resulted in electricity savings of 4,350 million kWh, equivalent to 2,179 MW of avoided capacity generation. Not to mention the many metric tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided.

With more appliances falling under BEE’s star ratings programme and more households using them, we can hopefully expect to leave behind a smaller carbon footprint.

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MeetSeptember 24, 2010