From 2015 new energy efficiency measures will help Europeans save €45 per household and the amount of energy consumed by 11 million homes per year in electricity. Measures include energy labels for cooking appliances and products sold online, and automatic stand-by requirements for connected devices and coffee machines.
What changes on 1st January 2015
From 1st January 2015 new measures introduced by the European Commission will help consumers save energy while cooking, making coffee and surfing the internet. In addition, energy labels will also allow consumers to check the energy efficiency of products sold online.
- Energy labels for online sales: Retailers will be required to show energy labels when selling products online. Up until now, retailers only displayed the energy efficiency class of a product online, such as 'energy class A', but not the other classes on the label (e.g. A+, A++, B or C) making it difficult for consumers to compare products. This will now become clearer.
- Energy labels for cooking appliances: New domestic gas ovens and range hoods will have to have an energy efficiency label. Up until now, only electric ovens were sold with an energy efficiency label.
- Automatic standby for networked devices: New networked equipment (such as modems, receivers/decoders, connected televisions, printers, etc.) will have to offer a function that switches the equipment into a low power standby mode if no main task is performed.
- Automatic standby for coffee machines: New coffee machines will have to offer a function that switches the machine into a low power standby/off-mode after a specified period of time, depending on the type of machine.
Benefits for consumers
These measures will put money back in consumers' pockets as of January 1st 2015:
- The publication of energy labels for products sold online will mean shoppers can now compare the efficiency of different products online, just like they can already do in stores. This will help them make savings wherever they shop.
- An energy efficient gas oven (i.e. classA+) will typically save €180 over its lifetime compared to a less efficient one (i.e. class D). This is similar to electric ovens where an A+ product can save €230 over the product's lifetime compared to a D class product.
- The new standby rules for networked devices (e.g. modems, receivers/decoders, connected televisions and printers) are expected to save on average €40 euros per household per year, without affecting the device's performance.
- The new standby rules for coffee machines will save 30% of the electricity consumed by each drip filter coffee machine, equal to €45 over the lifetime of a product - which is roughly equivalent to the standard retail price of a drip filter coffee machine.
- All together, these new measures save each European household €45per year.
Overall, consumers using only energy efficient products in their homes could be saving €465 annually per household by 2020.
Benefits for producers and retailers
The measures introduced by the European Commission were strongly encouraged by manufacturers and retailers, Member State representatives, consumer organisations and environmental NGOs. Together with other Ecodesign and energy labelling measures, they are seen as a strategic asset for European companies' competitiveness:
- In the EU, more than 85% of consumers use the Energy Label when purchasing. For European business, this means €55 billion per year in extra revenue.
- Besides that, ecodesign measures directly contribute to reducing costs and enhancing competitiveness by setting rules at European level, avoiding compliance costs with potentially 28 different sets of national requirements.
- As for EU competitiveness, these measures protect EU industry from unfair competition with imported low-quality and low-cost products.
- Moreover, given the increase of energy efficiency obligations in developed and many developing countries, the rules make EU products more competitive in foreign markets too. A recent study for the Commission shows that out of 59 non-EU countries that have adopted equipment energy labelling schemes, half of them (53%) have adopted designs that have fully or partially emulated the EU energy label (including major economies such as Brazil, China, Korea, Russia and South Africa).
Benefits for the environment
From 2020 onwards:
- The three new measures for standby/off mode energy consumption and the energy label for cooking appliances are estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 15 million tonnes per year. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of Bucharest.
- All existing standby measures combined will reduce energy consumption by almost 75 TWh, without affecting product performance. This will reduce CO2 emissions by 28 million tons, equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.5 million households.
All ecodesign and energy labelling measures combined are estimated to deliver annual energy savings of around 166 million tonnesof oil equivalent in primary energy. This is equivalent to the annual primary energy consumption of Italy or the yearly consumption of about 60 million households.
Impact on energy security
The savings generated by these measures alone (i.e. 41 TWh) will reduce the import of energy into the EU by the equivalent of 65 million barrels of oil each year, which is more than Austria's annual net crude oil imports.
Overall, in the last 5 years the EU has saved €100 billion thanks to energy efficient products used by European consumers.
What do these changes mean in detail for…
…Online shopping. Retailers will have to show the energy label in full to online shoppers, just as is already the case for products displayed in shops. This measure requires the label to be displayed on new product models on sale from 1 January 2015, and applies to all products that already have 'offline' energy labelling requirements (such as dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators).
The new regulation on energy labelling for online sales substitutes all the previous online requirements by requiring the label to be shown in full. The requirements give sufficient direction to retailers so that consumers actually see the label. Specifically, the regulation states that the label should be
- of a size that it is legible
- and in proximity to the price of the product.
The approach is platform neutral and also works on small devices such as smartphones, by allowing the label to be shown through a so-called 'nested display'. From 26 September 2015 onwards the measure will also apply to space and water heaters (for example gas boilers and heat pumps).
…Cooking appliances. Producers and retailers of cooking appliances will only be able to sell domestic gas ovens and range hoods which carry the following energy label:
This measure follows the positive results achieved by energy efficiency labels for electric ovens (in place since 2002), which has saved €230 per household over the lifetime of a typical oven. Such an incentive for consumers led the European Union to extend the label to gas ovens, with a double benefit:
- From a manufacturers' perspective, this has addressed the imbalance between electric and gas ovens. Extending the energy label to range hoods will correct the lack of incentives for more efficient products in this sector too.
- From a consumers' perspective, it has extended potential cost savings to new appliances, the use of which varies geographically. For instance, electric and gas ovens are used differently in different EU countries: with this new measure, all EU consumers are now treated equally, and have the same opportunity to save energy and money.
These new energy labelling requirements will be accompanied by new energy efficiency requirements for ovens, hobs and range hoods from 26 February 2015 onwards.
…Coffee machines. Since 2009, coffee machines can only consume 0.5 to 1 Watt when not active and must have a function that switches them automatically into standby/off mode. From 1st January 2015 they will also need to switch into standby/off-mode after a specified time, given that some have functions that keep the coffee warm for some time.
The new provisions make it clear that:
- Domestic drip filter coffee machines with non-insulated jugs must switch to standby or off mode after 40 minutes after the end of the last brewing cycle.
- Domestic drip filter coffee machines with insulated jugs (which keep the coffee at the right temperature and preserve its aroma, without any further heating needs) must switch to standby or off mode after 5 minutes.
- Espresso machines must switch into standby/off mode right after brewing, pre-heating and cleaning is completed.
Consumers will not even notice as in most coffee machines (such as drip filter coffee machines with insulated jugs and espresso machines) no further activity is needed after the brewing and cleaning process. For drip filter machines without an insulated jug the heating function is redundant after a period of 40 minutes because by then the coffee has lost its aroma and has become bitter.
In any case, manufacturers may decide to offer a functionality that allows consumers to disable the automatic switch into standby/off, meaning that models which heat coffee even after 40 minutes may continue to be available on the market. The measure will not apply to products that are already on the shelves in stores but only to new products being offered for sale.
…Networked devices. Producers and retailers will only be able to sell networked devices (e.g. modems, receivers/decoders, connected televisions, printers) which automatically switch into standby/off-mode if not performing a main task.
Such products used to be in active or idle mode 24/7 consuming around 25-100 Watts. In total, the energy consumption of networked equipment in standby operating modes was around 90 TWh per year, corresponding to the electricity consumption of 24 million European households.
These levels are now reduced to 12/6 Watts (as from 2015) and 8/3 Watts (as from 2017), which is expected to save another 36 TWh by 2020 (equal to the energy consumption of 10 million households).
The requirements for networked standby does not affect at all the functionality, e.g. when downloading files. As long as the equipment is providing a main function (such as processing data), it will not be required to switch into networked standby.
Moreover, in networked standby mode, networked equipment can remain in a (low power) mode from which it can be reactivated via the network within milliseconds or a few seconds depending on the type of equipment.
Penalties for non-compliance
Manufacturers and retailers not complying with these new rules will be judged by the relevant Member State. Penalties are defined by Member States as required by the Energy Labelling and Ecodesign Directives. Member States' market surveillance authorities are responsible for checking and ensuring compliance.
Legislation in place
To move the market towards more energy efficient products, the European Union has implemented two framework Directives:
- The Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) - the tool for making products more energy efficient
- The Energy Labelling Directive (2010/30/EU) - the tool through which the consumer can recognise the best performing products
The individual product measures adopted under these Directives allow consumers to buy the most energy efficient products, and ensure a level playing field for European companies.
Commission Work Programme 2015
As laid down in the Work Programme 2015, the Commission will adopt a Strategic Framework for the Energy Union setting out the key actions to be taken in order to ensure energy supply security, reduce dependence on imports from third countries, further integrate national energy markets and improve participation of consumers, enhance energy efficiency, decarbonise the energy mix and promote research and innovation in the energy field.
With regard to energy efficiency, the European Commission is reviewing the Energy Labelling Directive (2010/30/EU) and will examine whether the current modalities need to be adapted.
See full Commission's Work Programme 2015 here
Energy efficient products available on the market
Currently, there are:
- 11 product groups covered by the energy efficiency and labelling rules: dishwashers, washing machines, tumble driers, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, lamps, luminaires, televisions, air conditioners, domestic cooking appliances and ventilation units.
- 8 product groups covered by efficiency requirements (and not by labelling): simple set-top boxes, external power supplies, electric motors, circulators, fans, water pumps, computers, power transformers.
- 3 horizontal measures covering the following: standby/off mode electric power consumption of electric and electronic products, standby power consumption of networked devices, and energy labelling on the internet.
Labelling and efficiency requirements for space and water heaters (such as gas boilers and heat pumps) will enter into force from September 2015 onwards. These will only apply to new products on the market.
How decisions are taken for energy efficient products
In the EU, all efficiency measures are developed through a rigorous and fully transparent process, with the close involvement of stakeholders at all stages. This includes:
- An in-depth "preparatory study" with the involvement of stakeholders that explores the technical, economic, environmental and social aspects of a product group.
- An extensive stakeholder consultation (including industry, consumer organisations, environmental NGOs, Member States representatives, etc.) through the so-called 'Consultation Forum'.
- An assessment of the impacts on the environment, industry and consumers, followed by a vote in a committee with Member State representatives.
Final scrutiny by European Parliament and Council who may reject the measure (this has so far not happened showing strong political support for these measures).
The importance of energy efficiency for the EU energy system
Increasing energy efficiency in the European Union, in combination with the development of renewable energy sources, is the best way to reduce our dependence on external energy suppliers. Indeed, today the EU imports 53% of the energy it consumes. Therefore, investing in energy efficiency means increasing our energy independence.
Moreover, the EU's experience proves that emission reductions in industry were achieved while production increased, with energy efficiency being the main contributor: between 1995-2010, the Gross Value Added in industrial sectors increased by 18% while industrial CO2 emissions decreased by 20%.
Last October, EU leaders approved the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy, and in doing so agreed to double their efforts on climate change mitigation. The 40% greenhouse gas reduction target is accompanied by a binding EU target to increase the share of renewable energy to at least 27% by 2030. In addition, there is an EU target to increase the EU's energy efficiency by at least 27%, subject to a review by 2020 that will consider a higher target of 30%. Energy efficiency is also important to achieving the objectives of European Energy Union.
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