I’ve chosen “Environmental Talks” as my cause for Q1 2021.
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Does this sticker look familiar? Do you recall seeing something like this on your fridge, geyser or AC?
It’s called a BEE star rating.
Knowledge about these ratings can help you reduce your monthly electricity bills. An old refrigerator could use up to 40% more energy than one with a BEE five-star rating.
We expect expensive appliances to last between 8 and 10 years so it makes sense to make an informed decision. Instead of basing our decision only on the price of an appliance, we should also consider the cost of using it over a period of time.
I’ve put together a short and easy-to-understand guide to BEE star ratings:
What is a BEE star rating?
BEE stands for the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. It is an Indian Government agency that falls under the purview of the Ministry of Power.
It was established in 2002 to encourage power efficiency and conservation. Its proposals comply to the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
BEE star ratings describe “the energy performance of an appliance in terms of energy efficiency, energy use or energy cost.” Note that it does NOT indicate the overall quality of the appliance.Tweet
Appliances are rated between one and five stars, with five indicating that the appliance is highly energy efficient.
BEE updates the star labelling norms periodically, usually every 2 years.
New rules became applicable for refrigerators from January 2020, for ceiling fans from July 2020 and for air conditioners from January 2021.
Not every appliance mandatorily requires a BEE rating. For some categories, it is optional.
Why should your appliances be energy-efficient?
Even though this is a no-brainer, I’ll list the reasons for buying energy-efficient appliances:
- Helps you save money on monthly electricity bills
- Greater ROI on your purchase
- Contributes to a cleaner environment
Most homes have several electrical appliances – ceiling fans, washing machines, refrigerators, ACs, geysers and so on.
Cumulatively, all these appliances use up a lot of electricity. Do I even have to remind you of our rising electricity bills?
- All the ceiling fans in a house can together contribute to 4-5 units of electricity per day.
- Energy-efficient ACs can reduce electricity consumption from 1.5 units per hour to 0.5 units per hour.
- Geysers and refrigerators contribute around 3-4 units of electricity per day.
So it is important to pay attention to the energy efficiency of our appliances as well as use them judiciously.
Decoding the BEE star rating label
A typical BEE star label will have the following components:
- Star ratings – Between 1 and 5
- Efficiency parameters – units consumed per year
- Appliance type
- Brand and model details
- Technical parameters depending on the appliance
- Dates between which the standard is applicable
- Manufacturing year
How are BEE star ratings calculated?
The grading system used by the BEE is called Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). It is meant for ACs, refrigerators and other electrical appliances.
However, in a country like India with a wide range of temperatures and seasonal fluctuations, the EER method was not ideal.
Thus in 2016, the BEE announced that it would begin to use ISEER (Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) to calculate the star ratings for ACs. This method evolved from the SEER method used in the United States.
So how are BEE star ratings calculated?
For each category of appliance, a method of calculation is determined.
EER = Amount of heat removed in an hour/Power consumed in the same hour
For the purposes of calculation, the outdoor temperature is considered to be 35 degrees Celsius, indoor temperature 27 degrees Celsius and humidity 50%.
ISEER = Cooling seasonal total load (CSTL)/Cooling seasonal energy consumption (CSEC)
Thus, ISEER values consider variable electricity consumption by an inverter-type AC and keep in mind seasonal temperature variations.
What should you look for when buying an appliance?
It is not advisable to buy an appliance by considering only its BEE star rating.
Many other factors are important, so keep these in mind:
Year of Rating
Since BEE updates its rating system periodically, it is better to buy an appliance that has been recently rated. Due to technological advances, an appliance that was rated 5 stars a few years ago may now be equivalent to 3 stars.
Not every appliance has a BEE star rating
It is voluntary for certain appliances such as ceiling fans, washing machines, computers, microwave ovens, DG sets and solar water heaters to have a rating. Thus, you will not have energy performance information when buying such items.
Cost vs. Energy Performance
Higher-rated appliances necessarily cost more. Typically, a one-star jump in rating translates to a 4-5% increase in cost of the appliance.
Not everyone has the budget for costly appliances. So you can look for the highest-rated product within your budget.
Technology vs. Energy Performance
Sometimes, a high-tech appliance may not be as energy efficient as a not-so-advanced appliance. So if you want to buy an advanced item, you may have to compromise in terms of energy efficiency.
The next time you go shopping for an appliance, remember to see if it has a BEE star label.