The EU energy label is a common sight on appliances, designed to offer an easy comparison between appliances and their energy consumption, it’s part of the EU’s drive for energy efficiency in the home of all European residents. Since its initial introduction the scheme has been expanded to cover more products and now takes into account the technological progress that has seen some product categories go beyond their initial ratings. The scheme, however, is not always perfect at keeping up with advances in energy efficiency and hence the move by some manufacturers to label their products ‘A-10%’ or ‘A++’ even if official designation for those ratings don’t exist. The change in 2010 to a new pictogram based label allowed the EU to factor in newer more energy efficient appliances and hence some product categories now include ‘A+++’, ‘A++’ and ‘A+’ ratings.
For a situation where the EU label is largely outpaced by manufacturers simply consider the range of V-ZUG ovens available, despite being rated ‘A’ for energy efficiency by the EU official labelling scheme they are marked as ‘A-10%’ and in some cases ‘A-20%’ by V-ZUG. This is because they meet and exceed the standards for an ‘A’ rating and hence the manufacturer chooses to give an ‘unofficial’ rating which indicates that their products are more energy efficient than other simply ‘A’ rated appliances. Manufacturers are not allowed to use their unofficial designations on the official labels supplied on appliances however informational material such as marketing brochures and advertisements are allowed to carry these unofficial ratings. Although the system can appear confusing, especially if different information sources carry different ratings, the easiest way to make a comparison is to check the official EU energy label which will give the ‘official’ rating along with energy usage values. This is not to say that you should ignore ‘A-10%’ and similar ratings as this indicates that the product is 10% more efficient than an ‘A’ rated appliance and is useful in splitting the very top energy efficient appliances from others, however you should note that A-10% and A+ are not necessarily the same thing as the values required to gain A, A+ and A++ certification don’t translate directly into A-10%, A-20% and so forth.
There are a number of other labelling schemes which you can use to help find the most environmentally friendly products, the Energy Saving Trust is an independent 3rd party which promotes water saving and carbon emission reductions, it certifies products which meet its strict energy saving qualifications with the ‘Energy Saving Trust Recommended‘ label. Green & Easy are a Licensed Retailer with ‘Energy Saving Trust Recommended’. Office equipment which meets energy efficiency requirements is awarded the international Energy Star award for energy efficiency.
From a wider perspective, the European EcoLabel is awarded to products with reduced environmental impact over their life cycle, different from Energy Saving Recommended and Energy Star certification in that it takes into account the environmental impact beyond just energy consumption. The materials used and manufacturing process are just two of the factors which account for the certification process and it is awarded by independent experts who ensure the products meet the strict environmental criteria required.