The average energy consumption of new electric goods sold in the EU displays a declining trend in the past couple of decade, despite the uptake in absolute number of refrigerators, washing machines and TVs. This improvement can largely be attributed to two EU Directives that are among the most effective environmental regulations ever passed: Eco-design and Energy Labelling.
The combined effect of ecodesign and labelling will result in a yearly energy saving of 150 million tonnes of oil equivalent by 2020, roughly the equivalent of the annual primary energy consumption of Italy.
The line chart below shows the trend in energy consumption and and stock of selected electrical appliances in European households. Since the introduction of energy efficiency measures, despite the growing stock of appliances, the specific energy consumptions declined.
The Eco-design Directive (2009/125/EC) requires manufacturers of electric and electronic equipment to be compliant to mandatory minimum environmental and performance standards fixed at EU level. The directive eliminates non-compliant products from the market, meanwhile boosting industrial competition on the ground of efficiency escalation.
The Energy Labelling Directive (2010/30/EU) requires manufacturers to supply energy labels with their products (and retailers to display them) to allow consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing new equipment. The effect of the labelling on consumers’ purchasing choices fundamentally reshaped the market towards more and more efficient home appliances, which resulted in Europe saving Gigawatthours.
Understanding the Energy Label
The current Energy Label provides information about the yearly power consumption of the appliance, ranking it on a alphabetical scale associated with a color code (A+++ and green for top efficiency of its class). Depending on the class of appliance, the label gives additional information on water consumption, load capacity and noise level.
Before purchasing new equipment, always check the energy label. Energy efficient equipment may have a higher retail price, but the cost premium is paid-off over time by the savings on energy costs. Thanks to more and more efficient appliances European households will have saved almost €500 per year by 2020. Moreover, energy efficiency measures will create €66 billion in extra revenue for European firms.
The EU is about to enact a new Regulation on Energy Label that will simplify current ranking system starting from 2021. In concrete terms, this will mean a rescaling of the energy classes: no more “pluses” (+), back to A to G. The new label will also include whole new classes of products, including heating devices. More on the new label it here.
A coalition of environmental groups demands the new Energy Label to include information about the durability and repairability of products, in the wake of the new European draft law countering planned obsolescence.
Disposal of electric and electronic goods
When your old appliance reaches end-of-life, dispose of it in an environmentally safe way. The disposal of electric and electronic goods is regulated at EU level via the Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. Take it to the nearest authorized collection point. If you are buying new equipment, know that the store from where you are making your new purchase has to take care of your used one, free of charge.
For more information on how to correctly dispose of your equipment, click here.