New energy labels for appliances
Energy labels have appeared on various electrical appliances for 25 years. They allow businesses and the public to select more energy-efficient products and easily compare different machines. In 1995 products mostly were classed as E, F or G, on a sliding scale where A was the most efficient. However, the labels spurred manufacturers to improve the performance of their equipment. They improved so much that the scale needed to be altered in 2011 to one that ran from A+++ to D. This however made it confusing. Most products had at least an A+ grade, and the perception was that anything A+ or better was a decent choice. That wasn’t the case given that A+ in some product categories was the worst option (because there was nothing below that).
In 2019 the UK agreed to a number of changes to the EU’s ecodesign and energy labelling regulations. Following a consultation in 2020, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy agreed that the energy label remains a widely used and highly valuable tool, so made changes in line with those agreed at EU level.
On 1 March 2021 new labels were introduced. These have a scale from A to G, i.e. without all the “+++”, in order to make it easier to understand the energy efficiency when buying dishwashers, fridge freezers, TVs and electronic displays, wine coolers, washer dryers and washing machines. The data is also more aligned with real life rather than lab conditions (see The next step ). The labels look very similar to the old ones (which makes sense as they are widely recognised and used). However, there is a QR code (if you want more information) and the energy consumption information is more prominent. They have the Union Flag rather than the EU emblem.
Note. The scale has been designed so that no products will have an A rating from the start. Remember, this doesn’t mean that products are less efficient than they used to be. Trap. The most efficient products might not be as obvious as before, when there was plenty of choice for an A++ or A+++ rating. You might be faced with lots of Bs, Cs and Ds (most A+++ products will be a B or C in the new label scheme).
Note. There is a transition period where you may see old, new or both labels. Tip. Take time to compare a few products. Most websites will also allow you to “sort by energy efficiency”. The Label2020 website also clearly explains what to look for on the label depending on the product you are buying (see The next step ).
New labels for light bulbs are expected in September. For other products, such as air conditioners, tumble dryers, vacuum cleaners and water heaters, the new labels will be introduced as soon as new or revised UK regulations come into force, currently expected to be in 2022. The UK can align with the EU or go further. A completely new label is being created for commercial refrigerators and freezers.