The New EU Energy Label
Most of us will be familiar with the colour coded energy labels on products such as fridges, washing machines and TVs, however these have now changed to a new format and new scale. In 2021, new EU energy labelling and ecodesign legislation came into force to help improve the energy efficiency of everyday products on the EU market and eliminate the least performing products.
What is an Energy Label?
Energy labels were first introduced in 1994 for various household appliances, and used a comparative scale from A to D, this was expanded in 200 and included the higher ratings of A+, A++ and A+++. The label helps consumers compare and choose products which are more energy efficient and cheaper to run, as well as driving manufacturers to develop more innovative and efficient products. The labels also provide details on the product’s water consumption or noise emissions.
Why have labels been ‘rescaled’?
As manufacturers develop more and more energy efficient products, the classes above A (A+, A++ and A+++) which we see on products in shops, will become saturated. For example around 65% of fridges and washing machines sold in 2006 were rated Class A, whereas in 2017 over 90% of those products were labelled A+, A++ or A+++. It is also difficult for the consumer to see differences between an A++ and an A+++ product. The scales has therefore been readjusted to a more simple A to G scale. So for example a product with a previous A+++ rating will now become a Class B. Class A will initially be empty to allow technological developments in the future.
The rescaled energy labels also include a QR code which allows the public to view information on the product in a European Register. Some icons have been adapted to make them more clear and the energy consumption of the product is given more prominence in the middle section of the label. Consumption is shown either as kWh per year, kWh per 1000 hours or per 100 cycles, depending on the product.
The following product groups were rescaled in 2021; others will be added in coming years.
- Washing machines and tumble dryers
- Electronic displays (including TVs
- Fridges and freezers
- Light sources
Any appliance that requires an energy label must be registered on the European Product Registry for Energy Labelling (EPRL) before being placed on the European market by a supplier. This allows the European Commission to monitor compliance and allows the public to search and compare products (using the QR code on the new labels).
Does the UK’s exit from the EU affect the energy labels in Northern Ireland?
Products now placed on the GB market must display the new rescaled label design. The Northern Ireland Protocol came into force on 1st January 2021. For as long as it is in force, Northern Ireland will align with relevant EU rules relating to the placing on the market of manufactured goods. Therefore suppliers must ensure these products meet EU energy labelling rules.
The energy label has been an important element of product information and communication for more than 25 years. It has enabled consumers to make informed decisions when choosing appliances, and the new ‘rescaling’ will further drive manufacturers to strive for even higher energy performance in future.
More information on the new label is available on the Energy Label website.
For more advice on reducing your personal and business energy, see our other blogs below: