The EU energy labels provide a clear and simple indication of the energy efficiency of products at the point of purchase. This makes it easier for consumers to save money on their household energy bills, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the EU.
The result of these labels and standards will be a yearly 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 an average saving of up to €500 per year on household energy bills. Moreover, energy efficiency measures will create €55 billion in extra revenue for European companies.
To make this possible, the EU has put in place regulations and directives, in particular as regards energy labelling and ecodesign for products.
First introduced for a number of household appliances in 1994 and subsequently expanded from 2004 – with a comparative scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) - the concept has been a key driver for helping consumers choose products which are more energy efficient, but it also encourages producers to innovate towards more energy efficient technologies.
With the energy label recognised by 85% of consumers, manufacturers are keen to see their products in the highest available category when compared to competitors. For example, roughly two-thirds of refrigerators and washing machines sold in 2006 were labelled as class A, whereas well over 90% of those sold in 2017 were higher than class A, namely A+, A++ or A+++.
In addition to information about the product’s energy consumption, the labels can also provide specific data about other relevant features of usage e.g. the product’s noise emissions or water consumption.
As a result of the development of more and more energy efficient products and because the difference between A++ and A+++ is less obvious to the consumer, the categories will be gradually adjusted to reintroduce the simpler A to G scale.
In concrete terms, this means that 5 product groups will be 'rescaled' in the course of 2021
- washing machines
A product showing an A+++ energy efficiency class could for example become a B class after rescaling, without any change in its energy consumption.
The A class will initially be empty to leave room for more energy efficient models. This will enable consumers to distinguish more clearly between the most energy efficient products. At the same time, it is likely to encourage manufacturers to continue research and innovation into more energy efficient technologies.
In addition, from 1 January 2019, suppliers (manufacturers, importers or authorised representatives) will have to upload information about their products into the European product database for energy labelling (EPREL) before placing these products on the European market. Consumers will be able to search the database for energy labels and product information sheets as of the second quarter 2019.
Companies can also create their own labels for energy efficiency products using the energy label templates or the energy label generator.
There is world-wide demand for more efficient products to reduce energy and resource consumption. The EU legislation on ecodesign is an effective tool for improving the environmental performance of products by setting minimum (mandatory requirements) standards for their energy efficiency. This eliminates the least performing products from the market, significantly contributing to the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency objective. It also supports industrial competitiveness and innovation by promoting better environmental performance of products throughout the internal market.