Call for green labels on electronic goodsConsumers denied information on energy usage

20 March 2007

 

Buying digital TV equipment

Don't rely on the advice of one retailer

A new report has found that shoppers are in the dark about the energy used by TVs and other electrical goods.

The National Consumer Council report surveyed 350 products and found only one TV labelled with an energy label sticker.

It complains that this lack of information hampers shoppers' ability to make ‘green’ purchases.

Its study highlights a lack of information both on the products themselves and on shop shelves.

And company websites and telephone helplines were little better, the NCC found.

Energy labelling

The consumer group wants businesses and government to bring in a colour-coded energy efficiency labelling scheme for electronics goods similar to the one already in place for white goods.

But Mike Floodgate of Retra - the UK's trade association for electrical and electronic retailers - said energy use stickers weren't compulsory on consumer electronics goods.

‘The information is actually available in the manufacturers' instruction books in a large number of occasions but at the moment there is no government regulatory requirement to inform customers on labels for domestic electronic equipment as the industry does for white goods, such as washing machines, fridges and dishwashers.

‘When the government tells us to do it we will do it.’

Switch with Which?

Consumers who want to take energy efficiency of appliances seriously need also to consider how green their energy supply is.

Switch with Which? - the impartial and independent energy switching service from Which? - can help consumers search for ‘green’ energy tariffs.

Which? Marketing Director, Chris Gardner, said: ‘There is ongoing debate in the market as to how to rate ‘green-ness’, since suppliers base their products on different criteria.

‘Electricity generation can be defined as ‘green’ if it is generated from renewable sources such as wind, water and biofuels (waste products and crops).

‘There are two types of green tariff. The first type gives a fixed donation to a fund for renewable projects - for example, building wind turbines. The second provides electricity from green sources.

‘This doesn't mean that the energy you need to boil your kettle comes from a particular wind farm - all electricity from green and non-green sources feeds into the national grid and can't be separated. What it means in reality is that the supplier buys the same amount of green energy as you use, to feed into the national grid.

‘Comparison of tariffs on Switch with Which? reveals that green tariffs are not necessarily more expensive yet will probably have as much or more impact on the environment than a marginal difference between appliances.’