A new star system – 2013 to bring new standards for TV efficiency

By Claire Reilly

Three years after the Federal Government mandated energy labelling and minimum energy performance standards for TVs, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has announced a new star labelling scheme will come into effect next year.

In order to respond to the increased production and availability of high energy efficiency TVs – in some cases, certain models have been granted ten-star ratings – the Department is set to recalibrate the system, increasing the minimum energy performance standard, effective 1 April 2013.

Current.com.au spoke to Keith Jones, technical consultant for the Depart of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, about the new scheme and how it would affect suppliers.

“Next year there’s a Tier 2 being introduced, and along with that there’s a recalibration of the star rating label for TVs,” said Jones. “The research that’s being done by the Department shows that consumers are pretty well attuned with this type of labelling scheme to see 3 and 4 stars as being a reasonable energy level, while 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 is seen as super efficient.

“But if everything gravitates up, eventually consumers get confused. So routinely with the schemes that do have labelling, we recalibrate the label every few years.

“This year for example, 1 star is the MEPS level and the current scheme grades up to 10 stars, and there are 10 star TVs on the market. From 1 April next year, the label gets recalibrated so the 4-star level becomes 1 star and that becomes the new MEPS level. If you’re below that you can’t sell the TV, and a 4-star TV becomes a 1-star TV.”

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While this will see certain products leave the market, Jones reiterated the Department had taken extensive steps to educate suppliers about the changes.

“We go through a very comprehensive stakeholder engagement process, and that starts a few years before any new scheme,” he said. “To give an example with Tier 3 for televisions, which will be planned for 2015/2016, the stakeholder engagement for that has already begun. And there will be stakeholder meetings over the next year or year and a half, culminating in an agreement of what the new levels will be. And they will be internationally harmonised.

“That’s the other thing that happens – we try, as far as possible to internationally harmonise these programs so that these manufacturers aren’t faced with some onerous requirement in California and maybe some slightly less onerous requirement in Australia, and another requirement in Europe.”

According to Mark Dreyfus, Cabinet Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, consumers are thinking more about their retail purchases of appliances based on the star-rating system.

“People are increasingly used to seeing this sticker, because they see it on washing machines, microwaves, electric stoves, ovens and dryers,” said Dreyfus. “And it’s not just the actual rating – which is about efficiency – it’s also the absolute amount of power that is consumed by the appliance.

“People are starting to think about that. There is recognition that if they have a huge TV screen, it’s going to use more power than a small screen. That’s the kind of calculation that we think consumers are increasingly starting to make. They recognise its worth investing in a new TV for a big screen and new features, but it will also be cheaper to run and it will pay for itself."

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