New electronic appliances can reduce Copenhagen’s climate impact

The city of Copenhagen could reduce its total CO2 emissions by 56,402 tons annually if all households replaced their outdated and energy consuming household appliances with new, energy efficient models, according to a new climate study from Electrolux.

In Europe today, over 188 million refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and dishwashers are more than ten years old and use up to 70% more energy than the new, energy efficient models. According to a recent study conducted by Electrolux, the city of Copenhagen could reduce its environmental impact by 56,402 tons of CO2 emissions annually if every household replaced household appliances more than ten years old with new, energy efficient models.

“The CO2 emissions that can be reduced per year are equivalent to 672 kilometers of driving for each household in Copenhagen. The electricity savings would mean that all households in Copenhagen could have a 60-watt light bulb on all day and night for 89 days. The electricity bill for each household could also be reduced by DKK 813 per year,” states Henrik Sundström, Vice President of Environmental and Sustainability Affairs at Electrolux.

Great savings to be achieved

Only a small percentage of Danish consumers are aware of the benefits – for their electricity bill and for the environment – of replacing their old household appliances with new ones. However, replacing old household appliances is one of the global initiatives that potentially offer the largest CO2 savings compared to costs, according to a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company in 2009. In Europe alone, we could reduce CO2 emissions by approx. 20 million tons per year. This corresponds to emissions from around 11 coal plants, or 6% of Kyoto’s target for the EU.

The most energy efficient refrigerators today use 70% less energy than the average refrigerators of 15 years ago. Since the life cycle analysis shows that 88%* of a refrigerator’s energy consumption occurs while it is in use, the total energy is saved by replacing your old refrigerator with a new one. Production of the refrigerator accounts for 8% of the total energy consumption during the appliance’s life, but Electrolux has also cut this to the bone:

“Although the use of household appliances constitutes by far the largest part of energy accounts, we have worked hard to reduce energy consumption in our production process by 15% during 2009. The goal is to cut an additional 15% by 2012. As a producer of white goods, we obviously have an interest in selling our products. But I also believe that we can honestly say that we have done our homework and accepted responsibility for our environmental impact – both in terms of product development and in our own in-house energy costs,” says Sundström.

Put household appliances on the climate agenda

As the negotiations for a new, ambitious climate agreement now enter a decisive phase, the delegates at the Bella Center in Copenhagen cannot afford to get lost in discussions about quotas and the development of renewable energy. They cannot risk going after the low-hanging fruit when there is a serious need to reduce CO2 emissions, believes Sundström:

“What matters now is to make it attractive for consumers to get on the train. And there must be policies on the table to stimulate the replacement of obsolete household products – such as a scrapping scheme similar to that which the government has just adopted to ensure that the waste oil burner is phased out. A scrapping scheme to encourage the replacement of obsolete electronic appliances will be a real win-win-win situation: Consumers will save money on electricity bills, the environment is saved from unnecessary CO2 emissions, and politicians are one step closer to achieving their stated climate change targets.”

Read more about the Electrolux study on climate change.  For more information, contact the Electrolux Press Hotline on +46 8 657 6507 or

*Source: MEEEuP Product Cases Report, Final 2005, VHK for European Com