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EU Proposes Plan to Help Consumers Choose Energy-Efficient Products

The European Commission on Thursday proposed a revision to its energy efficiency labeling laws to "ensure coherence and continuity and makes sure that customers are able to make better informed choices that will help them save energy and money."

To provide consumers with a clearer indication of the energy efficiency of products, which are currently classified in different scales, and to improve compliance for producers and retailers, the Commission is calling for a revised energy labeling system consisting of:

  1. A single energy labeling scale from ‘A to G’: the Commission is proposing a return to the well-known and effective 'A to G' label scale for energy-efficient products, including a process for rescaling the existing labels.
  2. A digital database for new energy efficient products: the Commission is proposing that all new products placed on the EU market are registered on an online database, allowing greater transparency and easier market surveillance by national authorities.

This proposal is in line with the 'Energy Efficiency First' principle included in the Energy Union Strategy, which aims to make the EU energy system more sustainable via well-informed consumer choices.

The EU estimates that 10 to 25 percent of products on the market don’t comply with energy efficiency labeling requirements, and that around 10 percent of envisaged energy savings are lost due to non-compliance. This is at least partly due to weak enforcement by national market surveillance authorities.

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The revised energy label will bring manufacturers and retailers an overall revenue increase of over €10 billion per year, the Commission claims, thanks to the reinforcement of a labeling as a popular marketing tool; a reduced risk of confusion, leading to increased legal certainty and better compliance; and a reduced administrative burden, thanks to product registration and the digitalized label download

The current energy efficiency labeling measures deliver about 175 million tons of oil equivalent of savings in primary energy every year, according to the EU. This is equivalent to the annual primary energy consumption of Italy or the yearly consumption of about 60 million households.

The revision of the 'A to G' energy label is expected to bring additional savings equal to the annual energy consumption of all the Baltic countries combined — around 17 million tons of oil equivalent per year in primary energy.

In April 2014, Unilever, Philips, 3M and several other members of the European Alliance to Save Energy signed a letter sent to the Commission calling for a new set of competitiveness objectives to exploit all possible cost-effective energy-efficiency opportunities by 2030. Later that year, EU leaders approved the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy, which included a target to increase the EU's energy efficiency by at least 27 percent, subject to a review by 2020 that will consider a higher target of 30 percent.

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