Misleading energy labels uncoveredWasher-dryers, ovens and light bulbs tested

01 December 2009

How Which? reviews washer-dryers

We get through many hundreds of loads in our laundry tests

New research has shown that some top-selling household appliances - including washer-dryers, ovens and light bulbs - may not be as energy efficient as claimed on their energy labels.

Defra tested 24 popular , 24 ovens and 265 different energy-saving light bulbs on the market against their energy efficiency labels to see how the appliances measured up. 

The tests, designed to gather a snapshot view, found that a quarter of the washer-dryers did not perform in accordance with the claims made on their labels. 

Four of the appliances were unable to dry to the required level, meaning 'that even where consumers have bought an apparently energy efficient appliance, the need to dry clothes for longer may result in higher energy use than suggested on the label.'

How Which? tests energy efficiency

Which?'s rigorous reflects the way you use your machine - we look at the annual running costs on the most commonly used wash program, 40°C cotton, and drying running costs based on energy consumption per kg of washing on four programs to get an more accurate real-world picture of washer-dryer energy efficiency.

We also test washing machines, , dishwashers and more .

Oven and light bulb energy efficiency

A mix of market-leading freestanding cookers and built-in oven models were also tested. Only one out of the 24 ovens didn't measure up to its energy efficiency label, though over half of the cookers tested failed in at least one other area, in particular the measured usable volume that was claimed.

Three quarters of the energy-saving light bulbs tested, also known as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), performed as well as stated on their labels for energy class, brightness and wattage. However 43% of old-style incandescent bulbs, and 31% of halogen light bulbs did not perform as well as claimed - and worryingly, testers found that some light bulbs had no labels at all, despite this being a mandatory requirement.

Energy labelling confidence 

Environment minister Dan Norris said: 'When people buy a new household appliance, they need to be confident that if it says it is energy efficient, it will live up to those standards.

'Defra is pushing Europe to revise and extend the A-G energy efficiency labelling system for more products to greater promote high efficiency products and help consumers chose the best products on the market. This research highlights the need for these standards to be fully enforced.'

Clare Corbett, manager for Which?, commented: 'We're pleased to see that Defra is actively testing products to see if their energy efficiency claims measure up. It's disappointing that for a sizable proportion of products tested there is a gap between what the label says and how the product performs - and that some products didn't even have a label.

'Which? tests appliances in a way that reflects how people use products in real-life - something that energy label accreditation doesn't always do. We will continue to push for better and more accurate labels that help consumers.'

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