Better energy labels on electronic products

Energy labels should help consumers and business owners to buy energy efficient products. Yet, the labels are outdated and need a makeover.

How did we get here?

This is an EU energy label for a refrigerator. These labels were introduced from 1992 for all kinds of products, such as washing machines, dishwashers, ovens, TVs, light bulbs. The labels are supposed to show to consumers and businesses the energy efficiency of a product in categories from A (most energy efficient) to G (least energy efficient). The labels also provide other information to the customer - like noise levels and size in the case of the refrigerator - as they choose between various models.

However, in an attempt to keep up with product innovation and advances in energy efficiency, new categories were added: A+, A++ and A+++. This doesn't make much sense, as there are actually enough letters in the alphabet to rate the energy efficiency of products without adding tons of +++++. So the European Commission decided to re-align the scale.


Why is this important for me?

Because as a consumer or business owner, you want to take an informed decision when buying a new electronic product. You might be concerned about the impact of the appliance on the environment and climate. Or at least with the additional cost that you face after purchasing the product, i.e. the money you spent on its electricity consumption.

Also, the label is supposed to provide transparency and comparability among producers, which in turn fosters innovation. As companies try to be in the best category (and to beat their competitors) they produce better, more energy efficient TVs, refrigerators or air conditioners.


What's the content?

 The proposal published by EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete hast two main parts:

Also, the former Directive on energy labelling (2010/30/EU) is changed into a Regulation. A Regulation does not have to be transposed into national law by the 28 Member States but rather are the rules directly applicable for suppliers and retailers.


What's happening with this legislation in the future?

In the European Parliament this subject was handled by the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, which voted on its position in June 2016. This was confirmed (with some small changes) by a plenary vote. EU energy ministers adopted their negotiation position in the Council in November 2015. Trilogue negotiations were wrapped up in March 2017, the final deal was confirmed by the Parliament and the Council in June 2017.

Now, the specific criteria for each product group (ovens, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, etc) will be defined by the European Commission in so-called delegated acts. Customers should then be able to see the first labels with the new rating scale without the “+”  indications in shops at the end of 2019.


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