The new energy efficiency label: more strict and informative

Since the beginning of 2021, a new energy efficiency labeling system has been in force, and  although it seems at first glance the same as the previous one, it is much stricter in its classifications and gives us a simpler vision of the true efficiency of household appliances.

Like the previous classification, it uses the letters A to G for labeling, with A being the highest efficiency rating, and G the lowest. But the four subdivisions that category A (the most efficient) had, disappear. In the previous labeling, A was divided into A +++, the highest rating, A ++, A + and A.

The European Union decided that, since the energy efficiency of appliances has been increasing, it no longer makes sense to maintain the subdivisions in category A, which could also cause consumer confusion. So you’ve rethought the scale and raised the bar. Because today, it is practically impossible to find electrical appliances so inefficient that they reach category F or G of the previous labeling.

Impact of the new energy labels

And the bar has been raised so much that, today, the difficult thing is to find devices that fall into the new category A, which will force manufacturers to continue working on developing more efficient and economical products.

But, in addition, so that no one can be confused, all the devices that are marketed in the European Union will have to be registered in an online database, which will make the market more transparent and facilitate the inspection work of the  national authorities.

The European Commission calculates that between 10 and 25% of the appliances did not comply with the obligation to be labeled, and that this penalizes up to 10% the energy efficiency of the entire European Union.

Moreover, it was difficult for member states to enforce the rule at times, since many times it could only be done through lengthy controls full of procedures. Now, if manufacturers want to sell within the Union, they must register in that database (EPREL) and provide all the necessary documentation to comply with the standards and be able to be subjected to inspections.

In addition, this database can also be consulted by consumers, where we can see the new energy label data on efficiency, capacity, consumption and even noise level. It is also mandatory that the labels have a QR code, which we can scan to send us to the EPREL, so that we can also check for ourselves the device data that we are going to buy.

Implementation of energy labels

Although the new labels have come into force in January of this year, their implementation has been made progressively.

In this way, on March 1st, it began to be applied to refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, electronic screens and refrigeration appliances for direct sale in establishments and online.

On May 1st,  it was already applied to the tires. And the next September 1st, will be applied to lamps and light bulbs. In 2022, in its last phase, it will be applied to air conditioners and dryers.

Calculation and characteristics of energy labels

In the meantime, it is possible that we can see the two types of labels coexisting and discover, for example, that the refrigerator that promised so much with it’s A +++ class is now a C and needs improvement.

Something that will be noticed in cases in which, in addition, a new method of calculating efficiency has been introduced, such as in washing machines, where the difference will be much more visible.

If before this was calculated with the performance of one year of the appliance, now it is done with cycles of 100 washes. Something similar will happen with monitors and televisions, which in the previous labeling offered the efficiency calculation only of the screen, while now it is that of the entire device.

The new labels are also “linguistically neutral”, that means they will not need to be translated and will have symbols common to all countries that allow us to understand their information at a glance, such as noise level, capacity in liters or the dimensions of the screen. In this way, situations in which the information could be in English (or some other language ​​of other countries of the Union), but not in that of the consumer, are avoided.

Reading energy labels

To put it in the case of a practical example: now the label of a refrigerator will offer us the new stricter energy rating, with a C, for example.

Then, the annual electricity consumption of the appliance, expressed in kilowatt-hours per year. Below the refrigerator capacity in liters, with the symbol of a container, and a loudspeaker that indicates the maximum noise level in decibels.

In other cases, such as washing machines, they tell us the amount of water they consume per cycle, the duration of these, the load capacity and even how dry the clothes will be after spinning.