If budget and brand weren’t enough to confuse your buying decision, there’s an energy rating label on home appliances to influence your choice. Everyone wants a five-star energy rated appliance as an efficient option compared to a lower rated one. If the stars are to be believed they better be understood as well.
What are energy rating labels?
Energy rating labels are labels that provide information about an appliance’s energy consumption. In India, BEE (Bureau of energy efficiency), an initiative of the Ministry of Power, Government of India, regularises these labels. It’s the government’s way to standardise energy consumption levels and help consumers make an informed decision.
Many consider the cost of the product but fail to gauge the cost of usage. Large appliances are used on a daily basis for years and this label allows you to forecast energy consumption of household appliances. It is hard to miss these labels and most people flaunt these labels for years after the buying decision is made. Let’s understand the information portrayed by these energy labels.
What do the stars mean?
Like we follow in most hierarchies, more the stars, more energy efficient the appliance. This is a visual representation of the appliance’s efficiency. These stars usually range from one, being the least efficient to five, being the most efficient product in its category. This is the quickest way to understand the appliance’s power consumption. Be aware though as these stars vary ever so slightly from product to product. For eg.: A 200L (litre) refrigerator with 5 stars is efficient in the 200L category but anything above or below its capacity and the star ratings would be an incomplete matrix for comparison. What then?
Beyond the stars?
No two appliances are identical and hence the star based visual representation is thus not very accurate. In such a case, BEE insists that the energy label must have the device’s kWh (KiloWatt Hour) usage per annum printed on their energy labels. This figure is usually available at the centre of the BEE energy label. For reference, here is a table of energy consumption in units and subsequent tariff rates in India.
1 unit = 1 kWh (KiloWatt Hour)
Tariff rate for power supply to homes (residential establishments)
|Consumption slab / Power supplier||Tata Power||Reliance||BEST||MSEB|
|0 – 30 units||40 paise||NA||50 paise||40 paise|
|0 – 100 units||Rs 1.60||Rs 1.15||75 paise||Rs 1.90|
|100 – 300 units||Rs 3.60||Rs 3.20||Rs 2.15||Rs 3.40|
|Above 300 units||Rs 5.75||Rs 4.40||Rs 4.65||Rs 4.50|
In addition to per-unit cost, there is a fixed charge applicable to all consumers, which varies from Rs 3 per month to Rs 150 per month, depending on consumer category of the appliance. Most families (without multiple air conditioners) consume less than 300 units per month.
Calculate your appliance’s energy consumption in rupees based on this matrix and be aware of the overall cost of purchase + usage of most electric appliances.
Label sizes and missing labels
BEE has made energy labels mandatory for most appliances and voluntary for many others. These energy labels vary in size based on the product size. Air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions, etc will sport a large energy label whereas fans, tube lights, etc will sport a relatively smaller label. If the product does not have the BEE energy labels, you can always opt for the one that has it or read the fine print for more info.
Technology evolves each passing year and so do their power efficiency figures. BEE understands this and hence updates their energy ratings every year. Updates depend on the newer technologies in each product category. Hence, a product with 5-star ratings last year may be considered a 4 star rated product based on the updated norms in its category this year. Manufacturers update their devices yearly too, hence the relevancy of BEE’s energy ratings stays constant year after year.
If you are feeling lazy, choose products with the most number of stars and features. If you do believe in maths and carry a phone, a little calculation will surely help you make a smarter buying decision.