What is Ecodesign and Energy Labelling?

The Eco-Design Directive for Energy-related Products

The European Union’s Eco-Design Directive for Energy-related Products was introduced to set minimum environmental and energy efficiency standards for all energy-related products where technological innovations can make a significant difference to the amount of energy used during operation.

Despite being little known in the UK, the Eco-Design Directive affects products that account for half of all EU energy consumption - such as fridges and freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers and washer-dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, electric ovens, televisions and light bulbs and many more.

The measures introduced as part of the Eco-Design Directive are estimated to reduce energy consumption across the 27 EU member states by about 10% by 2020. This would contribute 50% to the 2020 target to cut energy use in the EU by one fifth.

Examples of the most iconic products standards agreed under the Directive include:

  • A ban on traditional incandescent lightbulbs
  • A ban on fridges, washing machines and dishwashers below energy class A
  • Stand-by and 'off mode' losses limited to 1W on a broad range of products
  • The first energy standards and labelling for televisions

While the ban on incandescent lightbulbs has not been universally popular, it has made a noticeable difference - between 2010 and 2011 energy use for lighting appliances in the UK fell by a massive 9% as a result of the continued uptake of energy saving alternatives. [1]

The Eco-Design Directive was originally introduced in 2005, but a revised version was adopted in October 2009 which extends its scope to all products that have an impact on energy use, such as windows, insulation material or bathroom fittings.

The Energy Labelling Directive

Alongside the Eco-Design Directive, the Energy Labelling Directive was adopted in 2010 with the aim of helping consumers choose the most energy efficient products and providing incentives for manufacturers to develop and invest in energy efficient product design.

All products covered by the Eco-Design Directive will have to carry the Energy Label – to date the products for which legal instruments have been adopted include lighting equipment, air conditioners, TVs, tumble dryers, washing machines, dishwashers and refrigeration equipment.

The Energy Label is a powerful incentive for manufacturers to deploy the best available energy saving technology in their products. For example, two years ago the first TVs complying with the then newly announced A Class of the EU Energy Label emerged on the market. Now the first A++ class models are available which use almost 50% less energy (Energy Efficiency Index of 0.16 instead of 0.3) than the most energy efficient TVs previously available. [2]

References

[1] Domestic energy consumption since the 1970s factsheet, DECC, 2012