Energy labels explained EU energy efficiency labels

EU energy labels have become a common sight in home appliance showrooms - they're found on a selection of white goods and other products and are designed to help customers see how energy efficient a model is before they buy.

But what exactly does an energy label tell you about a particular item? We've been taking a closer look at how appliances are awarded an energy-efficiency rating, how you can compare models and what you should look for when you're out shopping. 

The EU energy efficiency label

 Energy-Label-Explained 

Products carrying an EU energy efficiency label

  • Washing machines, washer-dryers and tumble dryers
  • Fridges, freezers and fridge freezers
  • Dishwashers
  • Electric ovens
  • Energy-saving light bulbs
  • Air conditioners

How energy efficiency ratings are calculated

Energy ratings aren't comparable across different products, because each is calculated using a specific test defined by the EU and appropriate to that appliance. 

An EU energy label can give you a good at-a-glance evaluation of how energy efficient a product is. But using it to decipher which product is the most energy efficient on the market is less straightforward - particularly when a large number of models receive the same energy rating, or if the rating is calculated in a way that's not representative of how people use a product in real-life.

We've taken a closer look at energy efficiency ratings in more detail elsewhere in this guide for washing machines, tumble dryers, refrigeration products and dishwashers.

Energy efficiency label shopping tips

  • All of the above products are legally obliged to display energy efficiency information at the point of sale - if you can't see it, ask for it.
  • If you're comparing two A-rated appliances, look more closely at the energy consumption calculation data found on the label to find which of the two uses the least electricity.
  • Some of the detail found within the label itself can be handy - such as washing machine capacity or noise - if you go equipped with a rough idea of what's good, bad and average. Refer to the product-specific pages within this guide for more information.
  • You may find more than one energy label on a product - such as the Energy Saving Trust's Energy Saving Recommended label, or the EU's Eco label accreditation scheme.

The future of energy labelling

In order to keep up with energy efficiency developments and innovations, the EU has introduced new energy labels and ratings. The changes include:

  • New A+, A++ and A+++ energy ratings for fridges, washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers - the new labels were launched on a voluntary basis from December 2010 and became compulsory for all new models to carry by December 2011.
  • An A to G energy labelling system - which will look similar to the labels found on other household products - for televisions was launched at the end of 2010 for use on a voluntary basis. It was made compulsory for all new models to carry by 30 November 2011 (the labels are additionally due to change to A+ to F from 2014).
  • Re-calibrated refrigeration energy ratings to make it more difficult for models to score an A+ rating from July 2014.
  • Energy labels for more products including vacuum cleaners, boilers, windows and shower heads - we'll keep this guide updated as the full plans are unveiled.

If you're unsure how energy efficient a product is, refer to our in-depth and rigorous lab tests of washing machines, , fridge freezers, washer-dryers, dishwashers and more.

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