21 March 2019
New EU Energy Labels for Commonly Sold Electrical Appliances Adopted
With the aim of making energy labels more understandable for consumers, and help them to make better-informed purchasing choices, the European Commission adopted, on 11 March 2019, new energy efficiency labels. These cover dishwashers, washing machines and washer-driers, refrigerators, lamps, electronic displays including televisions, and refrigerating appliances with a direct sales function. These new labels will have to be visible for European consumers in brick-and-mortar stores and on-line as of 1 March 2021. A specific EU-wide information campaign aimed at EU citizens will be launched in 2021.
The Commission explains that ‘Energy efficiency first’ is a central principle of the Energy Union strategy. It is believed to be an effective way to cut emissions, bring savings to consumers, and reduce the EU's fossil fuel import dependency.
Since its introduction twenty years ago, the apparent success of energy labelling has encouraged the development of ever more energy efficient products. However, this has resulted in the current labelling system becoming too complex, with new products placed on the market progressively moving up in energy classes. Although initially most of the models were in the lowest classes (i.e. E, F, G), new models deserved higher positioning, until the situation where today most are said to be in the top classes (A+++, A++, A+) and virtually no product remains in the lowest or even lower classes. However, such a positive result now makes it difficult for consumers to distinguish the best performing products: they might think that in buying an A+ class product they are buying one of the most efficient on the market, while in fact, they are sometimes buying an average product or even one of the least efficient ones.
Thus, in order to make it easier for consumers to understand and compare products, the EU has decided to have in future only 'A to G' energy labels. The EU adopted in 2017 a revised energy labelling system consisting of:
- A return to the well-known and effective energy labelling scale 'A to G' for energy efficient products, including a process for rescaling the existing labels.
- A digital database for new energy-efficient products, so that all new products placed on the EU market are registered in an online database, allowing greater transparency and easier market surveillance by national authorities.
- This, the Commission hopes, will improve consumers’ understanding and coherence, thus aiding them to correctly identify the most efficient products.
After a consultation process following the 2017 agreement by the EU institutions for the reformed energy labelling, the Commission adopted, on 11 March 2019, the final format and visual identity of new labels for 6 product groups:
5 product groups of household appliances with “rescaled” labels that are commonly sold by Hong Kong traders to European consumers, namely, (1) dishwashers, (2) washing machines and washer-driers, (3) refrigerators, including wine storage fridges, (4) lamps, and (5) electronic displays including televisions.
A new labelling product group for refrigerating appliances with a direct sales function used in shops and vending machines.
These new labels will be visible for European consumers in physical stores and on-line as of 1 March 2021. A specific EU-wide information campaign aimed at EU citizens will be launched in 2021.
A new element in these labels is a QR code with which consumers will be able to get additional, official (non-commercial) information by scanning the code with a common smartphone. This data is being inserted by manufacturers into the EPREL EU database which will become available to any European citizen in the coming months.
The private sector and different NGOs are also said to be in the process of coming up with smartphone apps that will further assist in purchasing choices (e.g., by helping to calculate the return costs and compare different products).
Depending on the product, the energy labels will have to display not only electricity consumption, but also other energy and non-energy information, with intuitive pictograms, to compare products and perform a better-informed purchasing choice: information about water used per washing cycle, storing capacity, noise emitted, and so on.
Commission estimations value the total final accumulated energy savings of these new labels by 2030 at 38.1 TWh/year, which is said to be equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of Hungary, constituting an important contribution to the EU’s energy and climate targets and supporting the implementation of the circular economy.
Commenting on the adoption of the labels, Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, Europe’s leading Consumer Association, said that “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.”
Following the 11 March adoption by the Commission of so-called Delegated Acts that describe the new labels, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have, during a two-month period, a right to express an objection, after which, if none are received, the texts will be published in the Official Journal of the EU.
For more information on the reformed labelling system including what each of the product labels looks like, please click on the following for the European Commission factsheet.