Assessing the Replacement of Electrical Home Appliances for the Environment

An Aid to Consumer Decision Making



To evaluate whether replacing an existing product with a new, more energy-efficient product is environmentally preferable, we used an assessment approach based on life cycle assessment. With this approach, consumers can assess various replacement products, including products of different sizes or environmental performance in addition to consideration of various conditions of product use. The approach utilizes a diagram in which replacement conditions of products are compared with iso-environmental-load lines to determine the appropriateness of replacement. The approach also allows the assessment of energy and resource consumption and environmental impacts not only during the use stage, but also at other product stages. Iso-environmental-load lines to assess delayed replacement were also examined and derived. We then applied the approach in a case study of energy consumption by replacing three types of electric home appliances in Japan: TVs, air conditioners, and refrigerators. The results of assessment showed that replacing refrigerators after 8–10 years of use was preferable even if the replacement product was larger. The appropriateness of replacing TVs and air conditioners based on energy consumption depended on the replacement product and on the duration of daily use, and in several cases, delayed replacement was preferable. Replacement of air conditioners after 8–10 years of use was not preferable if the consumer already owned the most energy-efficient product at the time of the purchase. The necessity of accounting for a variety of available replacement products was confirmed.