SHOCK - Abbott says yes!

Legislation to allow the federal government to implement minimum regulatory standards for the energy efficiency and greenhouse emissions of energy consuming equipment has received bi-partisan support. This chart of the week shows why this is a clear win for consumers.

In rare piece of bi-partisanship, legislation was passed yesterday that enables the Federal Government to implement national greenhouse emissions and energy minimum standards (GEMS) and information for energy consuming equipment and appliances.

Back in June Climate Spectator explained how this GEMS legislation was likely to make a big difference to energy bills, $5.2b according to the Government, and asked the question – can Abbott say yes to reducing energy bills?

Turns out that he can.

This legislation should hopefully mean the government can move more rapidly to upgrade the minimum levels of energy efficiency that products like refrigerators, lamps, pumps, and televisions must meet in order to be legally sold in Australia.

In light of this good piece of news, we’ve dragged out an oldie but a goodie for chart of the week. It illustrates the average price of refrigerators per litre of storage space for different energy efficiency ratings. What it shows is that more energy efficient refrigerators in many cases over many years, don’t necessary cost more that less energy-efficient ones. Essentially it illustrates (at least in the case of refrigerators) that it is possible to improve energy efficiency without necessarily costing consumers more money.

Average refrigerator price per litre of storage by energy efficiency rating (higher numbers =more efficient)

Source: International Energy Agency (2007) Experience with energy efficiency regulations for electrical equipment

The one area where there appears to be a correlation between energy efficiency and price is the refrigerators at the top of the scale getting 4.5 stars. However it turns out that this is not necessarily due to these refrigerators’ higher energy efficiency.  

According to the International Energy Agency publication, Experience with energy efficiency regulations for electrical equipment,

“If making products more efficient appears to have no correlation with price, market observations and discussions held with manufacturers have helped to understand why the most efficient products on the market appear to also be the most expensive.

The higher cost of these types of equipment appears to reflect the additional cost of features other than energy efficiency. More expensive appliances tend to differentiate themselves by appearance, quality of materials and higher levels of controls; all of which add to their price. Typically they brand themselves as high quality products, and low energy consumption may be used as a further indicator  of quality.”

This publication also illustrates, in the charts below, that in spite dramatic improvements in energy efficiency of various white goods, the price of these goods have continued to fall.

Changes in energy consumption and price for refrigeration equipment

Source: International Energy Agency (2007) Experience with energy efficiency regulations for electrical equipment

Changes in energy consumption and price for laundry appliances and air conditioners


Source: International Energy Agency (2007) Experience with energy efficiency regulations for electrical equipment

Again according to the International Energy Agency,

“Discussions with several of the leading whitegoods manufacturers confirm that in past years it has been feasible to meet energy performance requirements at little or no additional cost. This is due to the following reasons:

--There has been sufficient advanced notice to meet the requirements through normal re-design processes;

--Manufacturers have been innovative in the ways in which energy performance has been improved.

--The costs of some components have fallen considerably. For example, electronic timeclocks and controls have become very much more available and cheaper.”

So if you see Abbott riding past in his lycra, or out in the surf in his budgie smugglers make sure you give him a pat on the back for saying yes on this legislation. Who knows he might learn to say yes more often.

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