Appliances and equipment

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

More efforts needed

Growing energy use by household appliances shows no signs of slowing down, reaching nearly 4 000 TWh in 2018, or 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	641	233	367	156	107	50	99	92	46	75
2001	661	236	374	149	107	50	102	91	51	80
2002	687	241	380	150	112	54	106	91	52	85
2003	703	244	395	158	123	57	113	93	55	91
2004	728	245	407	156	135	59	122	94	59	96
2005	780	252	413	136	156	62	126	98	65	111
2006	800	255	425	143	175	68	135	104	68	118
2007	834	255	432	139	200	70	140	109	74	125
2008	866	259	445	147	215	74	142	108	78	135
2009	847	260	440	155	240	80	152	112	77	144
2010	837	270	450	158	252	91	162	117	84	157
2011	838	263	449	162	273	100	165	123	89	152
2012	817	270	456	165	303	107	178	128	95	164
2013	832	265	455	181	343	114	186	130	102	171
2014	863	255	455	183	365	123	201	137	106	182
2015	851	256	456	190	387	139	210	135	112	187
2016	872	262	477	197	422	156	220	141	114	196
2017	875	262	482	198	450	169	233	146	120	204
2018	878	264	485	200	477	182	246	152	126	213
2025	895	276	507	213	676	251	350	191	179	277
2030	912	285	521	224	840	305	440	224	229	320
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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) has grown by nearly 3% per year 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 one third of final electricity demand in 2018 from the total of all appliances and other electrical equipment in residential buildings – down from 46% 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 since 2010, 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 will offset rapidly growing energy demand for household appliances.

	Energy change	Population	Household occupancy	Ownership and use	Energy efficiency
2000	0.0	0.0	0.0	0.0	0.0
2001	15.3	6.4	7.5	15.5	-14.1
2002	29.7	12.8	14.1	31.2	-28.4
2003	41.7	19.3	19.9	48.1	-45.5
2004	53.2	25.6	27.7	65.1	-65.3
2005	64.4	32.2	36.5	82.5	-86.8
2006	70.3	39.0	43.3	96.3	-108.2
2007	81.1	46.0	49.1	111.5	-125.5
2008	90.5	53.4	53.4	125.8	-142.0
2009	103.2	60.4	58.9	143.8	-159.9
2010	115.8	67.3	64.2	160.4	-176.1
2011	135.7	74.1	70.0	180.5	-189.0
2012	147.2	80.9	75.3	193.4	-202.4
2013	158.6	87.9	80.9	204.0	-214.2
2014	173.8	95.2	84.8	218.9	-225.2
2015	191.9	102.6	89.8	235.2	-235.6
2016	206.9	110.1	93.2	250.1	-246.5
2017	224.9	117.0	98.3	266.7	-257.2
2018	243.0	123.9	104.0	284.2	-269.1
2025	304.5	167.1	147.9	416.6	-427.0
2030	343.4	192.6	178.3	510.5	-538.0
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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 2018.


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 targets to dampen growth rates by 40% 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, average 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 European Union.

By 2018, this number was as low as 0.1 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. As of 1 January 2019, the upgraded framework energy labelling directive now requires all suppliers to register their products in a new central product database for energy labelling. This will provide better consumer access to reliable information and enable regulators to manage more effective compliance regimes.

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 70% of the energy consumed by appliances in 2030, a third 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.