Study finds need to revise energy labels

EU energy labels have been effective in improving the energy efficiency of white goods but they need to be rescaled as part of the forthcoming revision, according to a new market monitoring report.

The average energy consumption of refrigerators has dropped by a quarter over the last ten years, the report by EU-funded Topten project [pdf 2.32MB] indicated on Wednesday. While the average appliance price increased by 7% in the EU over the period, the total costs to consumers fell by 13% due to electricity savings.

But A+ refrigerators, the least efficient allowed on the market, dominated sales in 2014. The report’s authors called for the label to be scaled back to an A-G scheme to improve consumer understanding, while leaving the top two classes empty to accommodate future innovation.

Additionally, EU law should in future ban products that are less efficient than today’s class A++ refrigerators by 2018, the report recommended.

The project, carried out in collaboration with French energy agency ADEME and WWF Switzerland, gathered sales data from 21 EU member states on refrigerators, washing machines and tumble driers.

The market data for washing machines did not demonstrate a clear correlation between higher efficiency classes and low energy consumption. Nearly half of all washing machines sold were in the top class A+++ in 2014, which tended to be larger than those in lower classes, the report found.

For the energy label to incentivise energy savings, it needs to be linked to absolute energy savings rather than capacity per kg, the report argued.

By contrast, the EU tumble drier market has moved towards efficient heat pump driers, which comprised 42% of the sales in 2014, according to the report. It called for driers less efficient than the current A+ class to be banned from the market in 2017.

The European Commission will table a proposal to review the Energy Labelling Directive this summer. But the expected revision of the Ecodesign Directive is not planned for this year.