Spring cleaning: eco friendly appliances for a sparkling home

Spring cleaning: eco friendly appliances for a sparkling home

Low energy vacuum cleaners and steam cleaners are the way to go for a clean, fresh home

New AirRam2 from Tech is cordless and lightweight

You might not think household appliances have much role to play in cutting household energy consumption, but some machines are more gas-guzzling than others. So if you're a bit OCD on the vacuuming front, it's worth investing in models that use less electricity than conventional ones, such as the Gtech AirRAM™ cordless vacuum cleaner (£229) which uses only 100 watts of electricity. Hoover and Oreck also have low-energy vacuum cleaners - though of course new legislation that came in on 1st September 2017 means no vacuum cleaner can be more than 900 watts. For steam cleaners, Karcher is a strong player, along with Hoover and Oreck

Are you houseproud town mouse, a cleaning demon who can't get through the day without getting the vacuum cleaner out? If so, have you ever totted up the minutes your appliances are whirring away, guzzling electricity as they go?

It's probably not an issue that vexes many of us, but we should think about appliances, how often we use them, for how long, and whether we can use them less. Because just as we've all finally clocked that filling up a kettle for one cup of tea is barmy because it takes longer to boil and puts an unnecessary strain on the National Grid, so it makes sense to seek out low energy models of products we use frequently.

Ovens and fridges are rated for energy use, but the ABC rating system doesn't (yet) apply to vacuum cleaners. Which isn't to say manufacturers are resting on their laurels: GTech, Hoover and US brand Oreck do offer alternatives to the traditional models that use 2000-2400 watts of electricity. 


Oreck 35 lightweight compact cylinder cleaner draws 1200 watts. Cylinders carry tools and so need more powerful motors. £169.99
AirRam from GTech use batteries, hence no cords to trip up on
Hoover Evo Dust Manager, part of its GreenRay range, £179.99
Oreck's capacious upright cleaner again drawers 350 watts
Hoover PurePower GreenRay vacuum cleaner


This Worcestershire-based company launched its AirRAM cordless vacuum cleaner in 2012 and the improved mark two model was launched last year. People love the product so much, says the company, that it's had to transfer manufacturing from the UK to China because there isn't the factory capacity here to make enough models to meet demand. 

AirRAM draws an impressively parsimonious 100 watts of electricty and the company says this means you can save £200 on your bills over five years, compared to using a vacuum cleaner that draws 2400 watts. Not a huge sum, but not chicken feed either....

People like the fact that there's no cable to trip up on and that the detritus collected is compacted into nuggets that can be put on the compost heap if they are largely made up of crumbs, dust and pet hair... The battery takes four hours to charge and fully charged will give you 40 minutes of vacuuming time. Batteries are intended to last for 4-5 years and presently new ones cost £69.99.

And while the batteries can't be recycled, most of the plastic that makes up the body of the machine can be. 


This brand is huge in the US and it's making strong inroads into the UK market. Its upright models, which have distinctive retro styling, draw 350 watts of electricity, and weigh between 8.9lbs and 9.15lbs, so they're easy to carry around.

Oreck UK's marketing manager Alison Robinson explains that different things can determine electricity consumption when it comes to vacuum cleaners, such as the weight of the vacuum.

'And tools on board can increase weight, which means that more energy is required to ‘push’ the vacuum around. Oreck vacuums don’t need huge motors because they don’t just rely on suction.

'Our ‘top fill’ system means that new dirt doesn't have to push up through the old dirt already trapped in the bottom of the bag, thus requiring less energy use. The combination of a high quality brush, suction and top-fill design, as well as being lightweight and having no tools on board, means that a smaller motor can be used.'


Hoover's GreenRay range was its most energy efficient, offering up to 50 per cent savings on electricity compared to standard models; however it's been discontinued but new models such as the 700 watt Eco G Bagged Pets Cylinder are much more energy efficient and triple A rated.

Novia Imm, Hoover's marketing manager, says the right vacuum cleaner can reduce your carbon footprint by over 30kg a year. Plus Hoover products are over 80 per cent recyclable and come with a five-year parts and labour guarantee.
The Eco G range so powerful and efficient it delivers the high suction power of a 2300 watt vacuum cleaner while using less than a third of the energy. It also has a 4.5L bag and an 8m cord, so you shouldn't need to be constantly plugging and unplugging as you move around the house. Unless you live in a stately home that is. 
Get into steam cleaning
Karcher SC5-800 steam cleaner in action
Hoover's SteamJet Mop SSN17000, around £90
Karcher products will steam clean greasy cooker hoods
Karcher SC2.500 has two tanks for super long steam cleaning sessions. £229.99
Oreck 33 Steam-Glide mop, £94.99. Comes with reuseable microfibre pads

Steam cleaners aren't super low in electricity consumption (most smaller models draw around 1500 watts) but they do away with the need for cleaning fluids, which as we all know can contain nasty chemicals that aren't good for us or the environment. They just use steam to rip through grease and they really do work well. 

So if your porcelain floor tiles never look that clean no matter how much you ..or your cleaner..scrub away at them, or the shower glass always looks a bit smeary, or you never manage to make inroads into the grease on top of the cooker hood, or your rubber floor tiles don't shine any more...well, get a steam cleaner and prepare to be amazed.

Kärcher is probably the best known brand for steam cleaners, but Oreck and Hoover make lightweight models, and most of them will give you 15 minutes of steam cleaning per water load heated.

Kärcher says steam cleaners 'can be used throughout the house and are engineered to clean more deeply without chemicals, making them a natural and environmentally-friendly.' You can also use them to clean and refresh carpets.

The only problem with buying one is that it's yet another thing to find a home for...