Energy consumed by appliances and equipment is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. Improving the energy efficiency of appliances is a key objective for all Australian Governments.
The main policy tools that are used to improve the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment, in the residential, commercial and industrial sector, and save money for all Australians, are mandatory Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and mandatory Energy Rating Labels.
Since 1986 the Energy Rating Label has appeared on refrigerators and freezers in New South Wales and Victoria. Since that time, the label has applied to more product lines and is used in both Australia and New Zealand, with all states and territories having regulations in place over time.
In 1992 a national body, the Equipment Energy Efficiency Program (E3) was established to coordinate these activities. On 30 May 2012 the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) Bill 2012 was introduced into federal Parliament with a proposed commencement date of 1 October 2012. Providing that the legislation is passed, the E3 Program will operate under national legislation, replacing the patchwork of state regulations the E3 Program has been operating under to date.
The Program will continue to be administered by the Australian Government (currently through the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism), with continued input from state and territory governments and the New Zealand Government (through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority).
E3 reports to the Energy Efficiency Working Group (E2WG) under the National Framework for Energy Efficiency (NFEE), and ultimately to the Select Council on Climate Change. More recently the work of E3 has been adopted as a measure under the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency and the National Partnership Agreement on Energy Efficiency.
Products are considered for inclusion within the program on the basis that the community will benefit from their regulation. The individual product energy efficiency target is either the equivalent of world-best regulatory target or a more stringent level developed specifically for Australia. This market intervention has proved to be an extremely cost effective mechanism for reducing energy demand and greenhouse gases produced by consumer appliances, commercial and industrial equipment.
It is currently estimated that the E3 Program will yield a cumulative economic benefit to Australia of AUD$22.4 billion1 by 2024, plus new benefits of NZD$5.11 billion2 to the New Zealand economy by 2036. This reflects not only economic and environmental benefits, but also significant savings for households, businesses and industry throughout Australia and New Zealand. These benefits are the result of a productive working relationship between government agencies and industry.
- Source: Prevention is Cheaper than Cure – Avoiding Carbon Emissions through Energy Efficiency: Projected Impacts of the Equipment Energy Efficiency Program to 2010, p.5 (Report 2009/01)
- Source: New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.