Energy Efficiency Ratings- not worth the sticker they’re printed on?
You know how Energy Efficiency is a buzz word these days? With manufacturers and even comparison sites like Which! offering calculators telling you how much you could save over a product’s lifetime when factoring in the reduced energy usage- thereby justifying a higher purchase price. However, new European figures estimate that nearly one in five fridges, dishwashers, microwaves and other household gadgets use considerable more energy than advertised.
The Marketwatch study, a three-year survey of Europe’s home appliance industry, found digital radios using over twice their stated energy when turned off, dishwashers not washing properly in eco cycle mode, and vacuum cleaners sucking up 54% more electricity from the plug than advertised. The worst offenders included an AEG fridge freezer which used 12% more power than claimed, and a Hotpoint tumble-drier that was found to be sucking considerable power while in ‘off’ mode.
Overall, 18 of the 100 products (that’s 18% for the maths geniuses out there) were found not to be compliant with EU ecodesign laws. The tests were carried out across Europe by a number of groups, with the Energy Saving Trust (EST) doing the business in the UK.
However, it seems that the investigators weren’t entirely working in the dark, as the products tested included a ‘targeted sample’ of products that were clearly suspected to be dodgy. As a result, the EST are not claiming that almost 20% of appliances are likely to be over-using energy, but they did say that they “suspect that as many as one in 10 household appliances sold today consume more energy than the manufacturer states.” They added that “this could be misleading for consumers and result in higher energy bills – and true product cost – than they would anticipate.”
Previous energy efficiency studies have estimated that made up misleading energy claims by product manufacturers are costing users an extra €10.5bn (£8bn) in extra bills. Although it is important to note that there are an awful lot of appliance users in Europe, meaning the extra annual costs are not quite so eye-watering on an individual basis- with figures quoted of around £20 for an under-performing Kunft vacuum cleaner, or £31 for an AEG fridge freezer.
Nevertheless, Stewart Muir, a certification manager at the EST stood firm, saying: “We only covered a small proportion of products. The cumulative extra energy used across the entire product market ranges could add up to a substantial cost to consumers.” And who wouldn’t want to spend £20 less on vacuuming?