Building awareness on Energy Efficient Appliances among Indian consumers

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Author – Arindam Paul

Electrical home appliances such as air conditioners, ceiling fans, washing machines and others account for almost 18% of worldwide energy consumption. In India, there is an upsurge in the usage of electrical appliances, and in spite of economic growth, cost-saving and energy-saving appliances are not a part of an average Indian household. A consumer should make an informed decision while buying home appliances that have energy saving potential, but government practices have deterred this plan from attaining its full potential.

Star rating for Energy Efficient Appliances

The Indian government introduced the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency in 2010 to curb growing electricity demand in the nation. The main feature of this program is to make people understand the importance of energy consumption and encourage them to switch to energy efficient appliances. In 2006, the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) introduced the Standards & Labelling program to help consumers select energy-saving home appliances based on their cost and energy saving levels through an ‘Energy Star Rating System’. Till today, the program compares 21 electrical appliance categories, although, the star rating labelling process is compulsory for only four.

Almost 80 countries have set standards for energy efficient appliances, lighting, and other electrical equipment. The International Energy Agency believes that the appliance labeling program can slash a country’s energy consumption by around 10-25%. However, despite the government encouraging such energy saving programs, Indian consumers don’t buy energy efficient home appliances compared to the less efficient ones. The drawbacks of this program restrict consumers cost-saving and hamper the country’s carbon emission reduction efforts.

Today as we observe the world consumer day, let us take a look at expert suggestions on how the Indian government can implement the use of energy efficient appliances among households:

Transparent energy prices

Energy is not a mystical product that is different from other goods and services. Power generation and consumption are related to the larger economy, and a thorough analysis based on public demands should be done for it. Prices that reflect the benefits and cost of consumption and production give the motivation to do the right thing; hence getting the right price for energy consumption of home appliances will ensure people consume only what they need, and not waste it. Currently, Indian consumers enjoy the benefit of subsidized power, so they do not care of energy saving.

Provide information on products

Ranking of energy consuming appliances – Source: Synergy

People fail to invest a sufficient amount of money on energy efficient appliances. This situation happens due to an ‘energy paradox’ wherein government is not able to provide sufficient information about products leading to missing cost and market failures. Missing cost comprises things such as time cost, unsatisfactory products, and transaction cost that are not included in engineering assessment. The market failure of an energy efficient appliance revolves around missing information, i.e., people don’t know enough about the options available in the market to make an informed choice. This situation can be tackled by providing direct information to businesses and households. For example, majority of cheap ceiling fans available in the market are energy inefficient and cost a lot of power, while brushless DC power fans such as Atomberg Gorilla fans are costly since they use better technology and save power.

Begin with public sector

Building an energy efficient house in India can be an extremely difficult task, because there are innumerable points to remember. Authorization of power is divided among central, state, and local governments and many stakeholders. The government should focus on three goals; establishing a systematic and quantitative foundation to calculate energy consumption, set long-term targets for energy conservation, and lastly define the responsibility among all the stakeholders.

To tackle these issues, first, the government needs to provide funding to retrofit existing public buildings with improved energy efficient appliances. If consumers observe large scale power savings happening in a public building, then they will emulate that in their households. Secondly, the government should publicize building energy standards with required improvements. Lastly, the appliance standards should be upgraded regarding the level of efficiency needed, and programs such as Energy Star are a great influence. The Energy Star label is now found on more than 75 products, apartments, commercial buildings, and industrial plants.

Make energy consumption visible

Some governments inspire their citizens to conserve energy through direct appeal. In the case of electricity, efficiency can be achieved by letting consumers see their real-time price and consumption on the electricity grid, which is now possible with the help of smart energy meters. If consumers can view the price of electricity with the help of technology, then they will be able to shift their usage pattern of home appliances, which would eventually lead to more-efficient use of energy.

Smart meter for electricity monitoring | Source: Indiamart

Technology that curbs energy waste

One idea that is changing today’s electricity utility regulations is power companies getting incentives not just to sell their product, but to deploy technologies that help the customers use their product more efficiently. The government could also recruit private players in this program to curb energy waste. Energy-efficient appliances help upgrade the benefits of power resources, while also cutting down their consumption. With the help of informative programs, individuals will be able to understand the importance of energy consumption and try to save resources.

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