From A to G: A New Labeling Scale for New Energy Efficiency Products

Making energy efficiency clearer: Commission proposes a single ‘A to G’ energy label and a digital database for products

European Commission, July 15, 2015. Image credit: stux

As part of the Energy Union strategy, launched by the Commission in February 2015, today the Commission proposes a revision of the energy efficiency labelling laws. The proposed revision ensures coherence and continuity and makes sure that customers are able to make better informed choices that will help them save energy and money. It will also directly contribute to the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle of the Energy Union.

What does the Commission propose exactly?

To provide consumers with a clearer indication of the energy efficiency of products, which are currently classified in different scales (from A to G, from A+++ to D, etc.), and to improve compliance for producers and retailers, the European Commission is proposinga revised energy labelling system consisting of:

  1. A single energy labelling scale from ‘A to G’: the Commission proposes a return to the well-known and effective ‘A to G’ label scale for energy efficient products, including a process for rescaling the existing labels.
  2. A digital database for new energy efficient products: the Commission proposes that all new products placed on the EU market are registered on an online database, allowing greater transparency and easier market surveillance by national authorities.

This proposal is in line with the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle included in the Energy Union Strategy, which aims to make the EU energy system more sustainable via well-informed consumer choices.

Why is the Commission proposing a single ‘A to G’ energy label?

Since 1995, the EU energy label has proven to be a success: 85% of European consumers use itwhen purchasing. It has also driven innovative industry developments, with most of the products being in the top classes (A+++, A++, A+) today and most of the other classes being empty (in some cases, even A). However, such a positive result now makes it difficult for consumers to distinguish the best performing products: they might think that in buying an A+ class product they are buying one of the most efficient on the market, while in fact they are sometimes buying one of the least efficient ones.

In order to make it easier for consumers to understand and compare products, the European Commission is suggesting to have one single ‘A to G’ energy label. This will encourage consumers to buy the most efficient products, thereby reducing energy use with a positive impact on the energy bill.

Why is the Commission proposing a digital database for new energy efficient products?

It is estimated that 10-25% of products on the market do not comply with energy efficiency labelling requirements and that around 10% of envisaged energy savings are lost due to non-compliance. This is at least partly due to weak enforcement by national market surveillance authorities.

To strengthen this enforcement, the Commission proposes a product registration database where manufacturers and importers will register their products, uploading information that is already obligatory under the current EU laws. This makes key information regarding product compliance centrally available for enforcement authorities in the Member States, instead of them having to make an often significant and time consuming effort to get this information from economic operators.

The database will also make the label and key product information available to consumers and dealers and will facilitate the digitalisation of the energy label.

What will happen concretely?

When approved by the co-legislators, the Commission proposal will be implemented as follows:

  1. Products already on the market will be sold with no change
  2. New products will be sold with the new scale. Old labels, such as those with the A+ to A+++scales, will be removed by retailers.
  3. Producers will register their products. The information will be accessible to Member State authorities to facilitate compliance checks and increase transparency.
  4. Consumers will be informed through dedicated information campaigns undertaken by Member States, in cooperation with retailers.
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