Energy-saving made easy - Come on Labels for efficient products

Only a few people know their power consumption, in spite of rising energy prices. In an average two-person household, power consumption makes up approx. 15 per cent of the energy consumption. Electricity costs easily total 30 to 50 per cent of the overall energy costs – depending on living space and heating energy consumption. Yet a committed household can reduce their electricity demand by a third in a short period of time and using simple methods, saving in the process approx. 250 Euro a year. In the medium term it is possible to reduce one's own power consumption step-by-step to a third of its current level. Crucial steps to be taken to achieve this are replacing power-hungry household electrical appliances and buying new devices that are particularly energy-efficient.

New energy label for electrical appliances

The goal of European energy labelling is for consumers to identify efficient appliances at the point of sale and to receive targeted information on power consumption. The energy label was introduced in 1998 to provide guidance when purchasing efficient electrical appliances. Since 2011 the seven-step scale from A to D has no longer applied for a number of appliances. A+++ is now the best possible efficiency rating; the categories E, F and G are disappearing stepwise. As a result of periods of transition, different labels are currently used commercially. This leads to confusion and makes it difficult for customers to determine which appliance is the most efficient. In the case of washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, tumble dryers and air conditioning units, for example, appliances with the old and new energy labels are being sold.

The EU project “Come On Labels” is providing support for and accompanying the introduction of the new Energy Label in the participating EU Member States. The contact for implementation in Germany is Oeko-Institut.

Come on Labels – New project to provide better guidance in the market

The key goal of the project is to promote the new, standardised energy label for energy-consuming appliances. The “old” energy label (which is still conferred in the case of ovens, light fixtures, air conditioners and tumble dryers) and in the future above all the new label (which is already being awarded to refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers, washing machines and TVs) should fulfil the following conditions:

  • Correct product information should be provided on the label and the necessary appliances tests should have been carried out.
  • Appliances should be properly labelled at the point of sale and the labels should be sufficiently visible in the corresponding catalogues, flyers, etc. of the manufacturers.

Consumers are appropriately informed within the scope of the project and the energy label is explained to them with the help of information materials. The project, which is part-funded by the European Commissions' Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, is coordinated by the Energy Efficiency Center SEVEn (Czech Republic) and has partners in 13 European countries.

Information sheets on the labelling of energy-consuming appliances

Oeko-Institut has – together with the Rheinland-Palatinate consumer association – created information sheets on select product groups to improve the provision of information to consumers. These sheets contain tips on purchasing new energy-efficient appliances, how to use them correctly and efficiently and how to dispose of electrical equipment. Furthermore, example cost comparisons show how the electricity costs of appliances arise in the course of the product’s life cycle.

New efficient appliances are frequently more expensive to purchase, but the additional costs are recouped through lower electricity costs during utilisation. Take, for example, refrigerators. Since July 2012 new appliances with an efficiency level lower than A+ are no longer permitted on the market. Refrigerators cause approx. 10 to 20 per cent of household power consumption. In these cases replacing an old appliance with a new one is particularly worthwhile: a combi fridge-freezer in the efficiency category A+++ saves approx. 56 Euro a year compared to an old appliance of similar size. In contrast a new appliance with an A+ efficiency saves only approx. 26 Euro a year.

Results: inform, compare, save

To reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions but also – quite simply – to save money in the medium and long term, consumers should pay particular attention to the following when purchasing new electrical appliances:

  • The appliance should have the energy label and should be as efficient as possible.
  • In addition to the efficiency category, the electricity consumption and, where appropriate, the water consumption of appliances should be compared since large appliances (e.g. TVs) consume more electricity than smaller models – but can have the same efficiency category.
  • The higher investment costs of efficient appliances are mostly worth paying due to savings to be made with electricity costs.
  • Consumers should check that the appliance has an actual 'off' switch: only then can standby losses and hidden electricity costs be avoided. In the case of appliances without 'off'switches, a switchable multiple socket strip helps to keep electricity costs low.

Detailed information, tips on purchasing new appliances, and tips for efficient utilization provided by Oeko-Institut can be found under the following links:

The product information is only available in German.

Further information

Information on the “Come On Labels” project is available in English on the project website