Appliances and equipment

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

🕐 Last updated Wednesday, 23 May 2018

More efforts needed

Growing energy use by household appliances shows no signs of slowing down, reaching 2 900 TWh in 2017, or nearly twice as much as the electricity used in Africa and the Middle East. Only a third of appliance energy use today is covered by standards and labels, and coverage is poor in markets expected to grow rapidly in the next decade. Plug-loads and connected devices, which are proliferating rapidly, continue to go unregulated in most countries. All countries should consider adopting energy performance standards while increasing stringency of existing policies and extending coverage to a wider array of products.


Household appliance energy use by region

Nearly two-thirds of appliance energy use today is not covered by policy.

	OECD Americas	OECD Pacific	OECD Europe	Eurasia	China	India	Other Asia	Latin America	Africa	Middle East
2000	630.3074155	241.4792681	339.1522357	144.7881916	115.2301285	32.49421414	93.34368915	75.04440626	46.01325508	75.39973102
2001	646.3367994	241.7420359	345.0076356	140.6404179	115.9003058	33.98712741	99.17567646	74.60953388	50.21628777	80.0385345
2002	672.7577295	247.4940773	354.8260498	141.9429862	118.5542415	35.90818965	103.301852	75.34516623	51.998028	84.78711074
2003	691.0391154	246.5810387	364.3983929	144.0985101	126.4367579	38.59197329	110.4010193	77.79843876	55.33248542	90.13808168
2004	716.0591964	252.3051995	375.0197916	144.6115048	138.9847182	40.43551984	117.3114843	79.55703484	58.82951564	95.03003493
2005	746.3440785	257.0688631	382.0883724	131.8340475	149.5248119	42.59879323	124.161069	83.62253716	65.36524985	108.839304
2006	760.7711348	259.430323	392.363687	136.0586305	167.5253771	48.00089503	130.58906	88.48551	68.12847939	116.3254088
2007	788.5448452	263.1781766	399.1735461	136.0777002	195.1924905	51.1760499	135.6048639	92.21155557	73.10902029	122.6115706
2008	813.2665295	263.74284	402.186219	139.877849	211.3015106	55.2941294	138.8243102	96.12003236	77.4861683	132.0555773
2009	782.0226198	266.3136045	408.8212831	145.2092391	234.8186268	61.44069228	147.6919191	99.26112784	76.60493152	140.5655465
2010	815.427017	272.3575364	416.6554558	152.1543618	242.7249341	68.01052666	157.9206515	103.3656364	83.78801536	151.2549122
2011	804.4118537	263.741718	417.4535096	155.1594779	267.392134	72.1991283	162.0378561	108.1960491	89.99858578	148.7638529
2012	785.6269644	263.787035	420.1726125	156.6606346	296.928454	77.26269268	172.59825	112.9496108	95.08785092	158.1232829
2013	830.9754723	262.806028	416.448012	162.7676987	333.3219878	83.99707229	182.3616323	115.6511964	100.0402349	165.6532618
2014	872.5435596	253.5650809	408.6854962	165.7469832	347.3652417	91.50925273	196.4165461	121.4774054	102.1982187	176.8680848
2015	875.5606134	247.3994148	417.554041	164.2088134	364.6290684	95.6763294	205.9939324	120.1004994	103.8654249	185.8970502
2016	880.3577107	243.3282888	425.5212623	162.9776403	384.8079324	102.5067483	215.9420865	119.1964063	106.4467388	194.9730813
2017	886.6714008	241.3222062	432.747142	162.7510152	405.6215724	108.1913306	226.8514852	119.2990174	109.9195368	204.2308731
2025	929.647884	247.9937023	438.8472649	169.4321685	549.8958644	162.3910162	314.3504703	146.0566453	156.4922257	249.0601823
2030	955.7198167	252.8032235	439.461197	175.2462293	657.358757	217.9638257	386.8035319	168.8683421	205.3981082	283.6407905
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Electricity use by household appliances and other small plug loads (products that are powered by means of an ordinary AC plug) is currently growing by nearly 2% a year – a trend that has remained consistent since 2010.

The rise in ownership of major appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and televisions continues to push up energy demand in many countries, especially in emerging markets. However, major appliances only accounted for 40% of final electricity demand in 2017 from the total of all appliances and other electrical equipment in residential buildings – down from 50% in 2000.

This decline is due to significant growth in small plug loads, where energy use has grown twice as fast as that of major appliances over the past decade. In some countries, such as Canada, Japan, Korea and the United States, electricity demand from major household appliances has even decreased slightly since 2007, largely because of energy efficiency improvements and saturation of appliance ownership levels – but again, plug loads have largely eaten into those savings.

Fortunately, the growth of energy demand for major appliances has been slowed by energy efficiency improvements, due largely to minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) in most major markets (e.g. North America, the European Union, China and India). Without such efficiency improvements, the final energy consumed by those goods would have been nearly 20% higher. But far greater savings are still possible, and countries need to increase the stringency and coverage of MEPs.

Decomposition of final energy consumed by domestic appliances

Improved energy efficiency can only partially offset energy demand from increasing ownership.

	Energy change	Population	Household occupancy	Ownership and use	Energy efficiency
2000	0	0	0	0	0
2001	11.33011377	7.036516262	7.587839683	7.001514237	-10.29575641
2002	26.77443934	14.05878183	15.21401178	19.14540775	-21.64376203
2003	43.85410354	21.11264272	21.43868361	38.78112355	-37.47834634
2004	70.49413782	28.22032392	31.02178266	66.06933296	-54.81730172
2005	93.1456641	35.61141603	40.13352506	87.55919955	-70.15847654
2006	113.4894872	43.25232846	49.2407538	105.8117162	-84.8153112
2007	130.3773946	51.26452879	57.80874982	120.0722796	-98.76816364
2008	144.5556365	59.52675858	60.69117916	137.3102644	-112.9725656
2009	165.7553142	67.51619259	67.84418108	157.7702412	-127.3753006
2010	185.097191	75.52891574	73.0433682	170.1855116	-133.6606045
2011	209.0342101	83.41208892	79.94879055	195.1074436	-149.434113
2012	218.8506353	91.18146857	85.47373354	208.7246662	-166.5292329
2013	227.5226887	99.19689161	90.81609448	214.2018098	-176.6921072
2014	238.800837	107.5009888	94.91993124	226.2804429	-189.9005258
2015	254.0097382	115.3072517	100.1030627	240.4489915	-201.8495676
2016	273.2111345	123.0975796	103.9461509	259.7248065	-213.5574025
2017	292.2445815	130.8541662	109.267499	275.7412851	-223.6183689
2025	340.1972707	204.431858	189.0000286	474.395356	-527.6299719
2030	333.3523597	214.9786515	202.7862846	505.5644219	-589.9769983
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Recent product improvements are promising, as appliance manufacturers have taken advantage of technology advances to produce increasingly more efficient products, for example by using advanced sensors, direct drive motors and heat pumps in clothes washers and dryers.

But ever-changing consumer preferences and growth in overall ownership are eating into those savings, and many of the most efficient products are also the most expensive.

In the television market, for example, energy performance improved four-fold in the past 15 years as liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) and light-emitting diode (LED) screens replaced conventional units. But the average on-mode power of the largest and best available televisions on the market today is only half that of products for sale in 2000.

In addition, consumer preferences for larger screens ate up a significant portion of those efficiency gains, with screens larger than 125 centimetres up from 10% in 2010 to more than 25% in 2017.


Tracking progress

MEPS have played a strong role in efficiency gains, especially for major household goods, but appliances and plug-loads are not on track to meet the SDS goals to dampen growth rates by 20% by 2025.

Plug-loads have significant potential to boost electricity demand growth, but this market remains largely unregulated. Standards are not necessarily keeping up with market trends, and in many emerging markets where appliance ownership is expected to grow strongly, MEPS have not yet been implemented.

Regulations are working to soften energy demand growth in some markets. For instance, standby power for televisions has been lowered from more than 4 Watts (W) in 2000 to less than 1 W in markets such as Austria, Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

By 2017, this number was as low as 0.3 W for best available televisions. Standby power of connected devices was as low as 0.4 W for networked appliances in regulated markets such as the European Union, India, Korea, Mexico and the United States.

To foster further energy efficiency gains in the next decade and help bring more efficient products to market, all countries need to adopt or improve MEPS and extend coverage to additional products.

Australia is setting an example in this area, having increased the stringency of its MEPS on refrigerators and freezers in 2017. The European Union is also demonstrating what is possible, releasing the Ecodesign MEPS programme in 2016 and upgrading its framework directive on energy labelling in 2017. And Germany launched a top-runner initiative – intended to bring highly energy-efficient residential appliances to the market more quickly – under its 2016 National Energy Efficiency Action Plan.

Concerted effort is also needed to improve the efficiency of small plug loads and connected devices. The growing use of these devices in buildings remains largely unregulated, even though they will represent more than 60% of the energy consumed by appliances in 2030, 30% of which may be related to connected devices.

Ongoing digitalisation of electric appliances is unveiling new opportunities to improve resource efficiency and allow consumers to manage their consumption through demand-side response. But the current lack of policies in this area may prevent the buildings sector from seizing these opportunities to improve performance.


Innovation

The IEA’s new Innovation Tracking Framework identifies key long-term “technology innovation gaps” across the energy mix that need to be filled in order to meet long-term clean energy transition goals. Each innovation gap highlights where R&D investment and other efforts need improvement.

Explore the technology innovation gaps identified for appliances below:

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The use of electric appliances and white goods are increasing as living standards are rising worldwide. Although efficiency measures and standards have been implemented over the years, appliances are still responsible for a large share of the building’s energy demand.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • The innovation needs here are largely about delivering major jumps in efficiency beyond the marginal improvements seen with conventional technology. E.g. use of heat pumps in dishwashers, dryers, clothes washers.
  • At lower costs and in condensed applications.
  • Delivering lower cost high-end product solutions like induction or direct drive motors to the general market.
  • Policy coverage: Today only applies to 33% of electric appliances, further expansion of S&L programmes is needed.

Key initiatives

SIEMENS, LG, ABB and Electrolux.

Explore all 100+ innovation gaps across 38 key technologies and sectors here.