How to read the ‘stars’ (on your appliances)

Energy Rating Labels are part of the Equipment Energy Efficiency Program (or E3), an Australian Government requirement on new appliances, making it easy for consumers to compare running costs. They’ve been around since 1986, and in the past, a six-star benchmark was the highest available. Newer ‘super efficient’ models now go up to 10-stars.

The more stars, the lower the cost to run.

It is likely that you have at least one appliance in your home with an Energy Rating Label on it – hopefully more.

Products required to provide an Energy Rating Label are:

  • Air conditioner (single phase), ducted, split and portable
  • Clothes dryer
  • Clothes washing machine
  • Computer monitors
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerators and freezers
  • Swimming pool pumps
  • TVs

How do we read the stars?

The comparative star rating is to:

  • Compare similar-sized products.
  • Make the best purchasing choice for a new appliance.
  • Know how much energy an appliance uses per year.

Tip: Always choose which size (or capacity) model you need first, then use the star rating to compare them.
You cannot compare the star ratings of two fridges of different sizes – i.e. a bar fridge vs a 202L fridge and freezer.

Do your own research!

Looking to buy? Or want to know what your current appliances are costing you to run? You can look for an appliance from the list above and see what its running cost will be buy using the Energy Rating Calculator available at

The calculator can help you research products you want to buy, and products you already own.
If an appliance is too old – it might not be in this database.

The easiest way to find your appliance in the calculator is by finding its model number. This can be found in many places:

  • Online sales information
  • Product information sticker on the appliance
  • Purchase information (i.e. user guides)

Other online tools

Appliances Online has a calculator on the sales pages for most of its energy rated products. This is a handy way of seeing the running costs without visiting another site. You’ll find it in the “Specifications & manuals” section of the page.

Put in 0.33 (c/kWh) as an SA average per Kilowatt price (or change depending on what state you live in, or what your tariff is in $/kWh, found on your bill), and put 10 years of use. Don’t change the inflation section.

Choosing between similar sized products online

The compare function on most large retailers sites is great for helping you decide between several models. All features of these models are comparable – and an energy efficiency comparison is available too. Follow the steps below.

If you narrow it down to two models with the same rating – use the customer feedback tool to compare how other people have enjoyed their appliance and see if there are any other positives or negatives about it.

Air conditioners

You will see many air conditioners have a blue and red Energy Rating Label. The blue energy star labels indicate how efficient the model is at cooling, and the red energy star label shows how efficient the air conditioner is at heating. Power input relates to the amount of power to used to create the power output (in kW). Reverse cycle air conditioners use 1 unit of energy to create about 3-4 units of cool or heat. They are the most efficent form of household space heating.

Left: Air conditioners prior to April 2020 have the two Energy Rating Labels for heating and cooling.
Right: After April 2020 the ZERL label came into effect and helps you make a better purchasing decision for an air conditioner in your location.

Air conditioners imported, supplied or offered for supply after 1 April 2020 must display the Zoned Energy Rating Label (ZERL).  The Zoned Energy Rating Label provides a seasonal efficiency rating for three distinct climate zones across Australia and New Zealand. This provides consumers with better information, enabling them to select a product that would perform better and save energy in their relevant location.

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