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European Union to Revamp Energy Efficiency Labels for Electrical Appliances

On 15 July 2015, the European Commission proposed a revision of the EU’s energy efficiency labelling laws covering dishwashers, washing machines, tumble driers, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, lamps, luminaries, televisions, air conditioners, domestic cooking appliances and ventilation units.

This proposal is said to be in line with the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle, which is included in the Energy Union Strategy, aiming to make the EU’s energy system more sustainable via well-informed consumer choices.

Hong Kong companies familiar with the energy labelling of electrical appliances for the EU market will recall that, originally, the A to G grading scheme was created to promote energy efficiency and cultivate competition. The broader aim has always been to achieve the development of ever more efficient and environmentally friendly products.

Indeed, by classifying products according to their energy efficiency, the market’s consumption trends were steered towards purchasing more environmentally friendly products. The current scale, ranging from A+++ to G was established in 2010 because most modern products fell into the A category, and thus the new scale was needed to differentiate between various levels of A grade products.
The new system will consist of:

  • An energy labelling scale that ranges from A to G. This new scale is intended to ensure coherence, by making sure that customers are able to make better informed choices that will enable them to save energy and money.
  • A digital database for new energy efficient products.

The EU energy label is, according to the Commission, used by 85% of European customers when purchasing, and is said to have driven innovative industry developments. Most products today are ranked in the top classes (A+++, A++, and A+). This presents a problem in that consumers have difficulty distinguishing the best performing products and may think that an A+ product is very efficient when, in reality, that product is one of the least efficient available.

It is hoped that the new A to G scale will make it easier for consumers to understand and compare products.

The reason for the change comes from the fact that the more complicated grading scheme has been called confusing and misleading by consumer and environmental groups. However, although the new scale may cause less confusion in the long run, industry groups are worried that rescaling would further confuse customers and would create more red tape and further complicate the regulatory process.

In keeping with the digital database, manufacturers and importers will register their products, uploading information that is already obligatory under current EU laws. The digital database will, it is expected:

  • Strengthen enforcement of compliance with energy efficiency labelling requirements. It is estimated that 10-25% of products on the market do not comply with energy efficiency labelling requirements and that around 10% of envisaged energy savings are lost due to non-compliance;
  • Provide readily accessible information about products to enforcement authorities in Member States, instead of them having to make an often significant and time consuming effort to get this information from economic operators;
  • Provide readily accessible information about products to dealers and consumers, thus facilitating access to information and the digitalisation of the energy label.

Before the new directive can become EU law, it has to be debated by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, which must both agree on the future measures. This is expected to take about one year. Once the proposal is approved, the Commission will implement the following changes for product groups that have an energy label, within a period of five years for most products:

  • Products already on the market will be sold with no change. New products will be sold with the new scale.
  • Producers will need to register their products. The information will be accessible to Member State authorities to facilitate compliance checks and increase transparency.
  • Consumers will be kept informed through dedicated information campaigns undertaken by Member States, in cooperation with retailers.

The new system is expected to bring several benefits to various groups. Consumers are expected to save €15 per year due to clearer information about the energy efficiency of products, the possibility to compare products, and by being presented with more information about products such as performance, water use, or noise.

It is also expected that Member States will benefit from a reduction of 10-15% of their market surveillance time thanks to the product registration database. Member States can also expect a reduction in their administrative burden, since the proposal is for an EU Regulation, which is directly applicable. Thus Member States will not have to transpose the provisions into national legislation.

Hong Kong and mainland Chinese manufacturers and suppliers of products that are covered by the proposal and that are marketed in the EU will probably want to take these future changes into account, and understand how this may affect their business.

More information and documents are available on the European Commission’s Energy News website. More information on energy efficient products is available on the European Commission’s Energy Efficiency website.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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