Air Conditioning Star Ratings Explained
Single phase non-ducted air conditioners for household use are regulated for energy labelling in Australia and New Zealand. All three phase and single phase ducted air conditioners up to 65kW cooling capacity are regulated for Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). Manufacturers can choose to label three phase and ducted air conditioners, but this is not mandatory. MEPS details are shown on the air conditioner MEPS page.
Existing air conditioner regulations and labelling requirements are being considered in the recently published combined air conditioner and chillers consultation RIS.
Energy Label Cooling Heating
Domestic single phase, non-ducted air conditioners must carry an Energy Rating Label. Labels on ducted systems are voluntary, so not all products will have one. You can still view their energy efficiency performance on the GEMS Registration Database. In manufacturer’s literature they may refer to energy efficiency ratios (EER) and co-efficients of performance (COP) which are the efficiency ratings for cooling and heating respectively. They are simply a ratio of the output (capacity) divided by the power input. They may also mention an annualised version of these metrics (AEER and ACOP). These are virtually the same thing, but deduct standby power. The Energy Rating Comparison Tool provides the power input and outputs for all products, even unlabelled ones. This allows you to calculate the EER and COP yourself. You can then compare these and choose a model with a higher EER/AEER and/or COP/ACOP.
For non-ducted household air conditioners, you can still compare models online or using the free Energy Rating app, but you can also use the label. Air conditioner labels are a little bit different to labels for other household products and have some product specific information on them.
Just like on other appliances, air conditioners are given star ratings, blue for their cooling function and red for their heating function (unless the appliance is a cooling only device, and then it will have the blue stars only). The more stars a product has, the more efficient it is. Air conditioners can currently be rated up to 10 stars. If a product is rated at 6 stars or less, it will not show the extra star ‘super efficiency rating’ band. You can see on the above example that this unit is rated 7 stars for cooling and 4 for heating, so only the cooling star arch has the additional coronet.
You can compare the efficiency of different products using the stars, however you must compare products of the same or similar size. You can find this in the middle of the label, in the capacity output box.
Capacity output and power input
The capacity output figures on an air conditioner label will let you know the amount of cooling and heating the model can produce. These are the figures you should check are of similar value when comparing star ratings. See size matters for information about the importance of choosing the right sized product.
The power input shows you how much power is required to produce the heat or cooling shown in the capacity output box. If two products have the same star rating and same capacity output you can see which product is more efficient by choosing the one with the lower power input.
Some labels may also have a separate declaration within the heating output and input box, as shown above. This number will show the heating output capacity of the product when tested at 2 degrees Celsius. The main figure is based on testing at 7 degrees. When outside temperatures are below approximately 5 degrees, outdoor units can begin to ice up and this will impact on the capacity of the unit (i.e. the amount of space it can heat). This declaration is voluntary and won’t be found on all models. However if you live in an area that regularly has temperatures below 5 degrees, it can be worth looking for this figure or asking your retailer or installer.
Variable output compressor
Variable output compressor with no box checked
This box shows whether the unit has a variable output compressor, commonly known as an ‘inverter’ air conditioner. These units are able to vary the speed at which they operate to suit conditions, so on a mild summer day they won’t have to work as hard as when it’s 40 degrees outside. Traditional single speed air conditioners, which are less common today, simply turn on and off as set temperatures are met.
Demand response capability. Energex Peak Smart, DCR
The Demand Response (AS4755) section of the label refers to the appliances’ inbuilt capability of participating in a voluntary peak electricity demand management program. An example of such a voluntary scheme is Energex’s PeakSmart air conditioning program (link is external). This feature is only relevant to these types of voluntary programs and will not affect normal operation.
Mode 1 means the appliance is capable of being turned off and back on.
Mode 2 means the appliance is capable of being turned down by 50%.
Mode 3 means the appliance is capable of being turned down by 25%.
Zone based energy efficiency labelling map
Zoned Energy Rating Label