Better information about domestic appliances could have a major impact on households’ energy use
With 42% of the average UK household’s energy consumption accounted for by domestic appliances, it makes sense for customers to know the efficiency of those appliances, and how much each one actually costs to run.
A recent report by environmental charity Global Action Plan (GAP) – backed by British Gas, B&Q and Bosch – calls for clear labelling, including cost per usage and subsidies for the most energy-efficient white goods. According to the Watts in the Kitchen report, millions of pounds a year could be saved if UK households switched to the most energy-efficient white goods.
GAP says that if all UK consumers who bought an A-rated fridge-freezer in 2011 had bought an A+++ appliance instead, UK households would have saved 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to taking 33,000 cars off the road, and made annual financial savings of £24m.
Over the 15-year lifetime of the fridge-freezers, UK consumers would save £360m and enough energy to power 51,000 UK homes for a year. However, most people do not even realise that the most energy efficient goods are no longer rated as A+ but A+++ under the EU’s labelling system.
“Poor labelling on white goods means many consumers do not benefit from the financial and environmental savings the most efficient appliances offer,” says Trewin Restorick, chief executive of GAP. “We think that consumers should be provided with information on the cost per use of appliances. This would give them the opportunity to compare appliances and make a more informed choice when buying white goods.”
UK consumer group Which? agrees, telling Ethical Corporation: “With energy prices one of consumers’ top financial concerns, energy labelling of appliances is important to help consumers reduce their bills.”
Stephen Cawley, head of sustainability at UK retailer John Lewis, says the department store chain is committed to helping customers choose products and services that offer ways to live a more sustainable life. “Alongside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, we are exploring an energy labelling trial, which is about providing user-friendly information to customers on the lifetime energy efficiency of different appliances.”
John Lewis already uses a sustainable product identifier across relevant product ranges to help customers identify sustainable and UK-made products more easily. “Work is underway to enhance our labelling,” says Cawley. This is due for launch later this year.
Restorick believes the current EU labelling system is deficient. “When I was at school, I always aimed for an A grade, but for consumers looking to buy a new domestic appliances, this is no longer good enough.”
He explains that from July 2012, for example, cooling appliances rated below “A” have been phased out because they no longer meet minimum defined energy efficiency requirements. “The speed of manufacturers to improve the efficiency of their products is far faster than the EU’s ability to respond and change the labelling.”
Restorick believes that by providing transparency on energy efficiency and cost, the most progressive manufacturers will attract more consumers to their products, while less progressive manufacturers will be encouraged to improve the efficiency of their appliances.appliances Claire Manuel energy energy efficiency sustainable growth