In the European Union, many everyday products such as washing machines, refrigerators and cooking appliances carry energy labels and have been designed to meet minimum energy efficiency standards.
The result of these labels and standards will be an energy saving of around 175 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) by 2020, roughly equivalent to the annual primary energy consumption of Italy.
For consumers, this means a saving of €465 per year on household energy bills. Moreover, energy efficiency measures will create €55 billion in extra revenue for European companies.
Energy labels help consumers choose energy efficient products. The labelling requirements for individual product groups are currently created under the EU's Energy Labelling Directive, a process managed by the European Commission. Products are labelled on a scale of A+++ (most efficient) to G (least efficient).
In July 2017 the Commission published a new Energy Labelling Regulation that will gradually replace the Directive. In the future, products will be labelled using a simpler A to G scale, as the development of more energy efficient products means that the lowest categories in the previous scale are no longer needed. Consumers will also have access to a database of product labels and information sheets, and defeat devices, which alter a product's performance under test conditions, will be banned. Read more about the Regulation's impact.
Companies can create their own labels for energy efficiency using a range of labelling tools.
Ecodesign regulations require manufacturers to decrease the energy consumption of their products by establishing minimum energy efficiency standards. By setting these standards at European level, manufacturers do not have to navigate through multiple national regulations when launching their products on the market.
The ecodesign requirements for individual product groups are created under the EU's Ecodesign Directive, a process managed by the European Commission. As an alternative, industry sectors may also sign voluntary agreements to reduce the energy consumption of their products. The Commission formally recognises such agreements and monitors their implementation.
The European Energy Star Programme is a voluntary energy labelling scheme for office equipment. With the ENERGY STAR logo, consumers can easily identify energy efficient products. It covers office equipment including computers, servers, displays, imaging equipment and UPSs.
ENERGY STAR was started by the US Environment Protection Agency in 1992. The EU agreed to take part in 2001 to include office equipment not carrying an EU energy efficiency label.
Under EU law (Article 6 and Annex III (c) of Directive 2012/27/EU), central governments and EU institutions must purchase office equipment with energy efficiency levels at least equivalent to ENERGY STAR.