Always check the label
UPGRADING YOUR APPLIANCES TO ENERGY-EFFICIENT MODELS CAN LEAD TO REAL SAVINGS. ENERGY LABELS ARE HERE TO GUIDE YOU
As you wander around your local hardware and appliance showroom, you will notice that many of the products display a colourful label. These tags are designed to help you make an informed choice when buying an appliance. Without such labels you might not be able to effectively compare appliances and judge which is more energy efficient and better for the environment.
Energy labelling of appliances first came into existence in Ireland in 1995, under EU legislation. The legislation currently covers washers, dryers, washer dryers, fridges, freezers, fridge-freezers, dishwashers, ovens and air conditioners as well as lighting.
The labels have been good news for all. "Energy ratings are a great guide for consumers," says Alex Lucas, Category Manager, Bosch. "They detail how much energy an appliance will consume over a year and measurements are based on EU standards. They allow consumers to compare the energy efficiency of available appliances. Lower energy consumption will result in lower running costs."
The system also encourages manufacturers to make appliances increasingly energy efficient. The label helps consumers to make a more informed choice when buying an appliance by allowing them to compare how efficient each device is in their use of energy.
Purchasing the most energy efficient appliance will save you money on your energy bills and will be less harmful to the environment in the long run. The more we choose energy efficient products, the more manufacturers will have to make energy efficient appliances - this gives us power as consumers to make changes happen.
How does it work?
All appliances on display in shops must be labelled with an energy rating. This label indicates energy consumption and are rated from A-G, with A being the most efficient and G being the least efficient. In order to keep up with energy efficiency developments and innovations, the EU introduced updated energy labels and ratings. New A+, A++ and A+++ energy ratings for fridges, washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers were launched in December 2011.
Can real savings be made? The answer is clearly yes.
"Home Appliances represent approximately 40 per cent of an average household's energy consumption," says Lucas. "Selecting the most energy efficient appliances can therefore have a significant effect in reducing household energy bills."
An 'A' rated appliance will use about 55 per cent of the electricity of a similarly sized appliance with a 'D' rating. For example, by purchasing an 'A' rated fridge instead of a 'C' rated one, each household could save €14 per annum or collectively €18m nationally, with CO2 savings of over 85,000 tonnes annually.
"Cooling appliances for example are switched on 24 hours a day. Selecting a more energy efficient model can therefore have a significant impact on a household's energy consumption and reduce energy bills."
But what exactly does an energy label tell you about a particular item? Energy ratings aren't comparable across different products, because each is calculated using a specific test defined by the EU and appropriate to that appliance.
"Laundry, dishwashing and cooling appliances are rated from A+++, the most efficient, to D the least efficient," says Lucas. "Consumers should therefore be aware that an A rated appliance will not necessarily be the most efficient available (A+, A++ and A+++ rated would be more efficient).
"The energy label will also give the consumer additional information relevant to the appliance such as water consumption, capacity and noise levels."
An EU energy label can give you a good at-a-glance evaluation of how energy efficient a product is. But using it to decipher which product is the most energy efficient on the market takes a little more work.
If you are comparing two A-rated appliances, look more closely at the energy consumption calculation data found on the label to find which of the two uses the least electricity.
Some of the detail found within the label itself can be handy - such as washing machine capacity or noise - if you go equipped with a rough idea of what's good, bad and average.
Consumers should keep in mind that Energy Rating criteria differs depending on the appliance.
"EU legislation is regularly updated," says Lucas. "For example, retailers can no longer sell cooling appliances that have an energy rating of less than A+. Therefore, in the case of cooling appliances, an A+ rated appliance will be the least efficient you can buy (with A++ and A+++ rated appliances available)."