Cash for old appliances?

Replacing the millions of old, energy-hungry appliances with new energy-efficient ones would not just benefit the consumer with lower running costs. It would also have major benefits for the United Kingdom as a whole.

The Energy Saving Trust estimated that just replacing all of the existing fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers with highly energy-efficient Energy Saving Trust Recommended models could save £688M a year from electricity bills nationally. This would also dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions, by the equivalent of the total emissions from about half a million homes. And this could be achieved without any inconvenience to the users who would have more modern, reliable and well-featured technology working for them.

There is a clear environmental case for a ‘scrappage’ scheme that would remove old inefficient appliances and replace them with state-of-the-art new ones. There are several precedents:

  • In 2000-03, the Dutch government offered cash rebates to people who bought more energy efficient appliances. As a result, the market share of Class A and higher models (the green ‘gold standard’) increased from 37% to 94%1, similar schemes also operated in Italy and Spain
  • In the UK the Boiler Scrappage Scheme in 2010 provided a £400 voucher against the cost of a new boiler for householders trading in old G rated models2, 125,000 were replaced in just three months
  • Car scrappage schemes operated throughout the world in 2009/10

All of these instances provide clear precedents for a Government policy to call in old fridges and freezers and replace them with more environmentally friendly devices.