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.
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Energy labels help consumers choose energy efficient products. The labelling requirements for individual product groups are created under the EU's Energy Labelling Directive, a process managed by the European Commission.
Companies can create their own labels for energy efficiency using a range of labelling tools.
On 15 July 2015 the Commission proposed a return to a single A to G label scale. Currently, several different energy label scales exist (from A to G, A+++ to D, and others), but over the years since 1995 when the label was introduced, energy efficiency has improved so much that most of the products now on the market are in the top energy efficiency class. The single A to G label would help consumers distinguish the most efficient products more easily.
The Commission also proposed the creation of a new energy efficient product digital database to boost transparency and improve compliance with the rules.
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.