EU adopts new energy efficiency labels for home appliances

The move is expected to reduce energy consumption and help consumers save money

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The European Commission has adopted the final format of the new “clearer” energy efficiency labels covering home appliances to help consumers make better informed purchasing decisions and save money in the long term.

The five product groups of household appliances with “rescaled” labels include dishwashers, washing machines and driers, refrigerators, lamps and electronic displays including television monitors and digital signage displays.

In 2017, the EU agreed clearer energy efficiency labelling rules, by moving from the current A+++ to G scale to an A to G energy scale, which is expected to be simpler and better understood by consumers.

Depending on the product, the energy labels will display not only electrical consumption but also other energy and non-energy information to compare products such as information about water used per washing cycle, storing capacity and noise emitted.

The private sector and NGOs are also in the process of coming up with apps that will further assist in the purchase choice, for example, by helping to calculate the return costs and compare different products.

A new element in these labels is a QR code through which consumers will be able to get additional, official (non-commercial) information by scanning the code using a smartphone.

The new labels are expected to be used on products in stores and online by March 2021.

Database for new products

This data is being added by manufacturers into an EU database which will become available to the public over the next few months.

It was estimated between 10% to 25% of products on the market do not fully comply with energy efficiency labelling regulations and around 10% of potential savings are lost due to non-compliance.

This is said to be at least partly “due to difficult enforcement by national market surveillance authorities because of lengthy controls”.

A production registration database (EPREL) has been created to make the compliance control activity more efficient and effective, where manufacturers and importers must register their products, including all detailed technical documentation.

Energy savings

The Commission estimates the total annual final energy savings of the new labels to be 38TWh per year by 2030, equivalent to the annual power usage of Hungary.

It plans to adopt a set of 11 ecodesign regulations, covering the five product groups with the new labels and five additional product groups.

Ecodesign regulation sets minimal requirements on aspects such as energy use in standby, reparability, availability of spare parts or facilitating dismantling and recycling once the product will be at its end of life – supporting the implementation of the circular economy.

Altogether, this new set of measures is expected to bring additional annual energy savings by 2030 of 94TWh per year, more than the annual electricity consumption of Belgium and Luxembourg.

Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, the European Consumer Association said: “We are pleased that the EU is finally fixing the flaws of the current energy label, starting with five products that most consumers own at home.

“It was high time we went back to the unambiguous A-G label to drive consumers to buy less energy-guzzling washing machines or fridges and save money.”