The EU energy label helps you find environmentally friendly household appliances with low energy and water consumption based on different energy efficiency classes. The aim is to counteract climate change. In our guide, you can read what information the various labels contain and what exactly they mean.
What is the energy label?
The energy label (also known as the EU energy label, energy consumption label, energy label, or EU label) is a printed label on household appliances that indicates the respective energy efficiency class.
The labels have been part of the energy consumption labeling since 1998, which is defined within the EU Directive 2010/30 / EU. Regardless of a national language, they allow uniform labeling for the European market thanks to pictograms.
Energy labels define minimum requirements for efficiency and emissions within individual product groups. They also show the energy efficiency or energy efficiency class of a product and provide orientation values. This makes it easier to compare space heaters and hot water devices with one another.
This is intended to sensitize consumers to efficient and climate-friendly products. Because the energy label aims to save energy and thus constantly minimize the consumption of resources in the EU countries.
Which devices must be marked with the energy label?
In addition to everyday household appliances, manufacturers must mark everything that impacts energy consumption. It not only applies to brick-and-mortar retail but also to online sales. The providers are obliged to show the energy efficiency classes clearly. Here you will find a list of all devices for which the energy label is mandatory:
- Refrigerators and freezers
- Washing machines
- Clothes dryer
- Room air conditioners
- Electric ovens
- Extractor hoods
- Wine storage cabinets
- Water heater / hot water storage tank
Good to know: Since January 19, 2019, the energy label for vacuum cleaners may no longer be used (judgment of the Court of the European Union, EGC, 665/2013).
The following devices will also receive an energy label in the coming years:
- Living space ventilation systems
- Commercial refrigerated shelves and chests
- Solid fuel boilers
- Electrical heating systems
What do the energy efficiency classes mean?
Consumers can find the energy requirement label visible on the front or back of the electrical equipment. Economical devices can thus be recognized more quickly. The EU regulatory body regularly carries out spot checks and checks whether the energy labels are in place. If this is not the case, manufacturers must expect high fines.
You will usually find seven different energy efficiency classes on the energy label, shown in the traffic light system's colors. Depending on the product group, the energy consumption label ranges from A +++ (dark green bar) for very efficient devices to D (dark red bar) for less economical variants. The black arrow indicates the efficiency class of the device.
However, there are a few exceptions that often cause confusion among customers: the scale for refrigerators ranges from A +++ to A +, for washing machines from A +++ to D, for televisions from A + to F (to be expanded to an A +++ by 2020). And it goes even further: The labels of wine coolers contain a total of ten classes (A +++ to G).
The energy label for washing machines informs you about the annual electricity and water consumption, the capacity (kg), the spin efficiency class, and the noise level with half and full loads.
Besides, washer-dryers are still identified with an old label (data strip) and class A to G. Attention: A + is the lowest efficiency class for washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators freezers. According to the European eco-design regulations, only the three best classes are allowed on the market.
Different symbols are shown under the "traffic light" that provide more detailed information on other essential features of the device - such as information on electricity or water consumption per year or the noise level in decibels for indoor and outdoor areas (for example, for Washing machines and dishwashers).
There is also further device-specific information on the EU labels: For example, on the refrigerator, you will find a milk carton for the cooling volume and a snowflake for the freezer volume.
Tip: The Label guide of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy explains to you in detail which symbols exist on the energy label for different product groups and how you as a consumer can use the values for yourself.
Tips on buying Energy Efficient Home Appliances
As a buyer and user of electrical appliances, please note: The energy label values were created in the laboratory and defined in a specific "standard program." The energy efficiency class is not a fixed value about the actual energy or Power consumption.
For you as a consumer, this means that the values in everyday life - among other things depending on the frequency of use and the installation conditions - may differ from the manufacturer's information.
Here is an example: Some manufacturers note the power consumption of televisions for the factory settings, but in practice, the picture is far too dark. If you increase the brightness and color strength, the power consumption also increases.
The energy efficiency class rather represents an allocation within a specific device size group concerning a group's reference device. Typical sizes of the respective instruments are used to merge a device group - for example, the valuable content of refrigerators or televisions' screen size.
The compilation of device size groups prevents small devices from being compared with large appliances when determining the energy efficiency class. Otherwise, the class would only make it clear to you that large devices use more energy than small ones.
Always compare devices of the same size with each other and then determine the one with the label's highest energy efficiency class. We also advise you to pay attention to the annual electricity consumption - shown in a box on the energy label. Tip: You can have the dealer calculate the actual power consumption and the power costs for the device's expected service life.
When buying a household appliance: When comparing products, our tip pays attention to the annual electricity consumption to save costs in the long term.
Modernization: New energy efficiency classes
On March 21, 2017, the EU Parliament agreed on setting the energy efficiency classes A +++, A ++, and A +: The new scale should range from A to G from April 2021 at the earliest. This brings you back to the uniform energy consumption scale, but the display with the seven-level color scale from red to green remains. The aim is more transparent energy consumption labeling. It creates more scope for further technological advances.
Voluntary labels for office and consumer electronics
There is currently no uniform labeling requirement for office and entertainment electronics devices. Voluntary labels provide guidelines for low energy consumption. Here are some examples:
The label Blue Angel indicates the power consumption during operation, production, and disposal of, among other things, computers, printers, copiers, heating systems for wood pellets or Solar systems.
Additionally, give you that European eco-labels (Euroblume or EU Ecolabel) and the Energy Star Notes on the environmental friendliness of, for example, computers or notebooks. Attention: The allocation of the Energy Star is based almost entirely on statements made by the manufacturer, i.e., controls by third parties are rarely carried out.