European Efficiency Labeling Program Going Retro?

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 09:27 -- MrGreen

Sometimes the “new way” doesn’t exactly work out as planned. A recent example is the European Union’s (EU) energy labeling program.

Earlier this month, the European Commission (EC) published a document proposing returning its energy efficiency labeling laws back to what they were before a 2010 revision.

Since 1995, EU energy labels have provided European consumers with a simple tool to compare the energy efficiency of similar products. In its original format, products were assigned a simple, single letter classification from A to G (A being the most efficient, G having the worst efficiency). But during the last decade, product efficiency improved dramatically, causing most products to qualify for an A classification. This prompted the EC in 2010 to address the problem by introducing three additional A categories (A+, A++, and A+++). However, a recent EC-funded evaluation revealed that most consumers found this confusing and were less motivated by a difference between A+ and A+++ than A and C.

So, the EC is now proposing the following:

  • Returning to a single energy labeling scale from A to G for energy efficient products, including a process for rescaling the existing labels
  • A digital database for new energy efficient products for sale in the EU, allowing greater transparency for consumers and government agencies

The labeling changes are part of the newly announced Energy Union strategy. Besides labeling reform, the Energy Union strategy includes a redesign of the European electricity market and a revision to the EU’s Emissions Trading System.

The Commission’s proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the Council for discussion and approval. When approved, the changes will be implemented within five years for all product groups that currently have an energy label. For additional information on the EC’s labeling reform, click here.