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Energy-saving claims ‘misleading’ shoppers

Energy Saving Trust questions energy claims


Energy labels don’t tell the whole story

Shoppers are being misled by energy-saving labels according to the Energy Saving Trust, which claims that 20% of household appliances don’t live up to their energy ratings.

One in five household products does not live up to its energy-efficiency claims, according to the Energy Saving Trust. It says that these products don’t comply with energy-efficiency standards or have running costs that don’t reflect their energy labels.

Which? also tests products for energy usage and we base our stated running costs on how people use their appliances. Because the EU’s and Which? assessments are different, the running costs published by Which? differ to the energy label. We’ve found significant differences in real-life energy costs for products with the same energy label. 

We’ve created energy cost calculators that show the real-life running costs of a range of products that we have tested, including washing machines, fridges, freezers, TVs and tumble dryers – so you can see exactly how much each model will really add to your bills. 

Energy-saving products 

When buying a new appliance it’s important to consider the the cost of running it as well as the upfront cost. We’ve found the cost of running a fridge freezer can vary by £62 a year depending on the model you buy. Similarly the annual running cost of a 32-inch TV ranges from £8 to £22. And the energy labels don’t always tell the whole story. 

Which? washing machines expert Adrian Porter said: ‘If you have an A+++ rated machine at home, you probably think it always costs less to run than an A+ machine on the main programs – but this actually depends on what programs you use.

‘If you always use the 40°C cotton program, one of the 7kg capacity washing machines we’ve tested with an A+ rating costs £19 a year to run, while another machine with an A+++ rating costs £33 a year – the opposite to what you’d expect.’

Real-life energy costs

Which? tests products in the way that our members use them – and testing energy use is no exception.

The EU energy label for washing machines is based on two cycles (one full load and one partial load) washed on the 60°C cotton program and one partial load washed on the 40°C cotton program.

But, in a survey of 949 Which? members in 2013, we found that 52% of people use the cotton 40°C program once a month or more, compared to just 37% of members using the 60°C cotton program once a month or more.

So when calculating running costs for our washing machine reviews, we base these on the most commonly used program – the 40°C cotton wash.

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