A new ratings system for large electrical goods is being introduced this month in a move that could result in household bills being cut by as much as £100 a year.
It is part of a shake-up of the efficiency grading system by the Government for new products such as fridges, washing machines and TVs. It involves new energy labels stuck on the side of ‘white goods’ that must adhere to tougher energy efficiency standards than were previously demanded.
The old labelling system, which ranked goods from a lowly ‘D-‘ to a top rated ‘A+++’, had been criticised for lulling consumers into thinking that products were more efficient than they really were.
Shake-up: The new system now ranks goods as low as ‘G’ but only as high as ‘A’
The new system now ranks goods as low as ‘G’ but only as high as ‘A’. Many shoppers may be confused at first as the new grading still uses many of the same letters. But the appliances that were previously being sold with ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade could now only be rated a ‘C’ or below.
Dee Fernandes, of the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances, says: ‘These energy ratings are starkly different from what were being used before.
‘It leaves more room for improvement at the top end of the scale to encourage manufacturers to make more efficient products that will save customers money.
‘The grades are not just for measuring energy efficiency but whether goods offer eco-modes and replacement parts are easy to buy if you want to repair them. Initially you might find that most goods are rarely ranked much above ‘C’.’
The new grades will be shown with coloured stickers on the side of goods and on sales labels just as the previous measurements were. These colours will match up to the changed grades. A ‘G’ will be accompanied with a red warning. Efficiency improvements then graduate up through orange and yellow, before finally turning to green ‘A’ for the most efficient.
The changes are being introduced to keep in line with a European Union shake-up of the system. Energy label ratings were first introduced in 1995 and these new grades are designed to reflect how energy efficiency has moved forward – with the old ‘A’ grades becoming a standard expectation.
Initially, only washing machines, dishwashers, fridges, freezers, TVs, some tumble driers and lighting will get the new energy labels. Other items including ovens are to be included later in the year. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is in charge of introducing the labels which will be rolled out from this month. But it will not be until the summer that it will become law for some goods to display the new label.
The department believes the average home could save at least £75 a year on their energy bill by taking heed of these new energy efficiency grades. Annual savings of £100 are expected for homes replacing all inefficient items two decades old. The requirement of manufacturers to provide spare parts when goods fail is likely to extend their life by as much as ten years. Michael Briggs, head of sustainability at the consumer group Which?, says: ‘Our research has found that all too often electrical items are thrown out due to faults that cannot be fixed. A key appeal of this new grading system is that it not only encourages greater energy efficiency, but also means more spare parts are available.’
Shoppers should be able to discover if an item being sold is using the tough new grading system because the label will not contain any ‘+’ or ‘-‘ signs as the old labels did. The new sticker should also include a ‘QR’ code in the top righthand corner of the image that allows users to look up specific details about the item with a reader app on their smartphone. Additional information, such as total energy and possible water consumption, will also be included.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy says: ‘Although the label was introduced following a European Union directive we hope to go much further with it – and later include a wider range of items, such as all forms of lighting and heating for the home.’ It adds: ‘Now the UK has left the EU, the energy efficiency label that once had an EU flag on it is being replaced with the Union Jack.’
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