'Beyond A' energy labels proposed for appliancesNew labels for TVs, dishwashers & washing machines

07 October 2010

Energy labelling

Energy labels can give you a good indication of how energy efficient a product is

The EC has set out plans to re-grade energy labels on home appliances - adding 'beyond-A' ratings for TVs, fridges, dishwashers and washing machines.

The new labels - which would add A+, A++ and A+++ to the current A-G efficiency ratings - are designed to raise the bar for manufacturers and boost the efficiency of home appliances.

Manufacturers are already legally obliged to display energy grades of certain appliances (not including TVs) on EU labels. Our guide to energy labels explained shows what this information means and how it can help you when choosing appliances.

'Beyond A' labels

Provided there is no objection from the European Parliament or European Council, the new labels are expected to come into force at the end of 2010 or beginning of 2011 - and would become law in the UK one year later.

Washing machines and dishwashers are currently labelled A-G, and they will become A+++ - D as soon as the regulations are passed. Fridges and freezers already carry A+ and A++ labels, but A+++ will be added. The proposed extension to these products would mean the labels cover a group representing roughly 30% of an electricity bill (EU average).

Energy labels confusion

A-rated appliances will no longer be the most efficient on the market when compared with the more efficient A+, A++ and A+++, which could confuse shoppers buying home appliances.

Which? energy expert James Tallack said: 'Which? supports efforts to make it easier for consumers to identify the most energy efficient appliances, and so cut their energy bills. But 90% of these products are already A-rated, which means many of the B classes and below are just going to be empty.

'Which? lobbied for the current A-G label to be kept and reset - rather than A+ categories being added on top - because our research shows that consumers understand it well. This option was rejected some time ago.

'It's now going to be confusing for consumers as the different types of products will carry different rating classes over the next few years. On top of this, consumers need to know that if these proposals become law, the new and old labels can be used for a while - manufacturers will be able to use the new label earlier if they want.'

Comparing energy efficiency

According to the EC, an A+++ fridge freezer will consume 60% less energy than its A-rated counterpart, but a triple A-rated dishwasher or washing machine will consume on average around 30% less than the same A-rated appliance.

We've had a closer look at how efficiency ratings affect appliances, such as washing machines, to give you a better idea of the running cost results when you get the appliance home. While EU labels are useful, our lab ratings for water and energy use allow you to see our star ratings and compare appliances by filtering washing machine results using the compare features and prices tool.

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