/ Sustainability

Are you aware of the latest energy label changes?

Can the new energy labels help us save on bills while improving the energy efficiency of our homes? Our guest from Energy Saving Trust explains more.

This is a guest post by Katie Searle. All views expressed are Katie’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

Since its introduction in 1994, the energy label has been one of the UK and Europe’s most successful initiatives for consumers, helping us choose energy-efficient and cost-saving products while making an important contribution to achieving national energy and climate targets.  

Over the last 25 years, the energy label has successfully promoted research and development of greener technologies. Until 1 March 2021, however, most products on the market were in the top three energy classes, as appliances have become more energy efficient over time. The old system, which used ‘+’ symbols in the top categories, didn’t allow any room for technological improvement at a time when carbon emissions and cost savings are at the forefront of our minds.

Revised rating system

An important change we’ve seen this year is the revised rating system, which now ranges from A to G. Without the ‘+’ extensions (eg A+++), labels are now simpler and easier to understand.

What does the new energy label mean for you and your home?

For example, an appliance that had an A+++ classification may now be rated B or C, according to the new energy efficiency scale. 

It’s important to understand that a change to an appliance rating does not indicate the appliance is less energy efficient, it just means that the product has been rated using the new scale levels. This will allow the most efficient products to be rated higher on the new scale.

So, when looking for a new refrigerator, freezer, washing machine, washer-dryer, dishwasher, television or monitor, we may find that the best rated one is a C or a D, but that only means that there is room for manufacturers to improve the technology and gain a higher energy efficiency rating on the new scale.

Are you concerned about home energy efficiency?

Recent findings published by Energy Saving Trust show that nearly all UK homeowners are concerned about their home energy efficiency; the new label offers a great opportunity for consumers to address some of these concerns, at the same time as benefitting from savings over the lifetime of an appliance.

For instance, choosing a D-rated fridge-freezer over a G-rated model could save your household £850 and 1,660kg of carbon dioxide over the product’s lifetime. An A-rated washing machine could help you save £60 in energy bills, while a D-rated dishwasher could knock £100 off your bill, if you compare it to a G model.

Even your TV can be kinder to your pocket and the environment: choosing an F-rated 32” TV over a G-rated 40” screen could save your family £132 over its lifetime.

Do you use the energy label as a decision-making tool when buying an appliance?
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Were you aware of the new rating system? For more information, including information for consumers and professionals, you can visit energylabel.org.uk.

This was a guest post by Katie Searle. All views expressed were Katie’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

Comments

It is encouraging that Which? reviews show both the new and old energy ratings, though it is necessary to delve into the technical specifications of individual products to see and compare ratings.

At present the reviews make it easy to display only models that are white or silver, so perhaps in future it could be just as to identify eco models.

The danger of being able to filter only Eco models is illustrated by the Which? “best buy” tumble dryers, that excludes any dryer that is not a heat pump model. As this is totally about energy saving it ignores, for an appliance that is used both frequently by some and (very) infrequently by others, the actual energy saved by some (many) users. So if they do not delve into the attributes of other machines they may well make a purchase that is not best suited to their needs.

As this is about the environmental impact, I wonder if the labelling scheme will be extended to include warranty/economic repairability and carbon footprint in manufacture.

Maybe we should be looking at secondhand products, especially if we are not planning to use them much. Some of the large charities test ones that have been donated to make sure they are safe.

Many (including myself) rarely if ever buy secondhand goods but perhaps we should. It would be an interesting topic to discuss. Our regular contributor Derek has had a great deal of success with secondhand products.

I wonder if a network of secondhand shops – not just “junk” shops – that, among other products, were competent to test, or get tested, electrical appliances would be a viable business. There are many products I would be happy to buy (and, indeed, sell) that were previously used. You can, of course, buy online including many from private buyers, but their hidden condition might be iffy, and auctions are a good source of other people’s cast-offs.

Phil says:
22 June 2021

Performance and reliability are more important to me as is noise. When I replaced the freezer a few years ago I nearly went with the Which? ‘Best Buy’, a Hotpoint, but then other reviews warned it was quite noisy. This is important as my utility room is more or less underneath the main bedroom so i went for something else.

Thing is Which? used to do noise tests as part of their fridge/freezer testing.

Phil – In Which? reviews you can find out which freezers score at least four out of five for quietness by clicking on ‘Which? test results’ at the left of the page and then selecting ‘Quietness’. At present, using this filter shows that 37 out of 68 models achieve this score.

This only works if ‘All freezers’ are selected but there is another filter that allows display of only ‘Best buys’.

This is really useful as it’s the first time I’ve come across the new labels.