Household Appliances

The EU has made legislation in relation to the publication of information on energy consumption by household appliances.  This enables consumers to choose appliances based on energy efficiency.

The directive applies to household appliances even where sold for non-household uses including

  • Refrigerators,
  • Freezers,
  • Washing machines, dryers,
  • Dishwashers,
  • Ovens,
  • Water heaters and hot water storage appliances,
  • Lighting sources,
  • Air-conditioning appliances.

Any such appliances offered for sale or hire purchase or hire must be accompanied by a leaflet and labelling providing information in relation to energy consumption and of other essential resources.

The supplier must establish technical documentation sufficient to enable the accuracy of the information in the label and the fiche.  This must include

  • general description of the product;
  • the result of design’s calculation;
  • test reports;
  • when values are derived from those obtained with similar models, information for those models.

The documentation must be retained for inspection for a period of at least five years after manufacture.

Suppliers must provide a free label to be attached to the appliance in the appropriate position and the appropriate language.  A product fiche must also be contained in all brochures relating to the product where these are not provided on all other literature provided with the appliance.

A fiche is a supporting document to the energy label. It must provide certain information relating to the performance and efficiency of the product

Where products are offered for sale, hire-purchase, by catalogue or other means whereby the consumer is not enabled to see the actual appliance, the essential information contained in the label or fiche must be provided to the potential customer before purchase.

Information on airborne noise and certain other auditory information concerning the appliance must be included in the label or fiche.


States must take necessary measures to ensure all suppliers and dealers in their territory

  • comply with the obligation;
  • prohibit the display of labels marked with symbols or instructions relating to energy consumption which do not comply with the directive or are likely to cause confusion, with the exception of community or national environmental labels;
  • launch educational or promotional information campaigns, and
  • encourage the more responsible use of energy by private consumers.

Where there are grounds for suspecting the information contained in labels or fiches is incorrect suppliers may be required to supply evidence.

Directives have been adopted in implementation of this framework directive.  They must specify,

  • the exact definition of the type of appliance to be included;
  • measurement specifications and methods to be used in obtaining the information in relation to energy consumption;
  • design and content of the label;
  • details of the technical documentation required;
  • location where the labels show the defects to the appliance;
  • content and where appropriate the format of the fiche which must be included in the information in the label;
  • details that can be provided in the case of mail offers.

General Energy Labelling

Suppliers shall place on the market products that have a label containing information on the product’s consumption of electric energy or other forms of energy.

Suppliers must also make available technical documentation including:

  • a general description of the product;
  • the results of design calculations carried out;
  • test reports;
  • the references allowing the identification of similar models.

The technical documentation must be available for a period of five years. Suppliers shall provide dealers with labels and product information free of charge. Dealers must affix labels in such a way that they are visible and legible.

In some situations, the final consumer does not see the product – in particular when purchasing by mail order, by catalogue or through the Internet. However, the consumer must have access to product information through delegated acts which specify the way in which the label or the fiche is displayed or provided to the end-user.

Commission Delegated Legislation

A delegated act shall indicate in particular:

  • a description of the product;
  • measurement standards and methods;
  • details of the technical documentation;
  • the design and content of the label. The classification of the product on the label shall be indicated using the letters A to G. The most efficient class shall be represented by A+++. A scale with a maximum of seven colours shall also be used, and dark green shall always represent the maximum level of efficiency;
  • the location where the label shall be fixed to the product;
  • the duration of label classification.

If a product is covered by a delegated act, contracting authorities which conclude public works, supply or service contracts shall procure products which comply with high-performance levels, expressed as ‘energy classes’. These criteria are as follows:

  • products which allow significant energy savings to be made;
  • equivalent products on the market shall have a wide disparity in performance levels;
  • the Commission shall take into account relevant EU legislation and self-regulation.

A delegated act shall take into account environmental parameters.

The European Commission has the power to adopt delegated acts for a period of five years from 19 June 2010. The period shall be renewed automatically unless the European Parliament or the Council revoke this right. These two institutions also have the power to object to a delegated act.

Revised Energy Labelling Regulation

The EU has adopted a 2017  regulation setting a framework for energy efficiency labelling which replaces the current legislation (Directive 2010/30/EU) retaining its main principles but further clarifying, strengthening and extending its scope.

The Energy labelling framework allows customers to be more aware of the energy efficiency and energy consumption of household appliances (such as dishwashers, televisions, fridges, etc.), which will help them to reduce their energy costs. This will also contribute to the moderation of energy demand and the achievement of the Union’s 2020 and 2030 energy efficiency targets.

The regulation establishes deadlines to replace the current A+, A++, A+++ classes with an A to G scale. It also sets out a procedure for rescaling the labels based on technological development. Thus, the excessive use of higher efficiency classes is avoided in the long term, providing also incentives for innovation and pushing less efficient products out of the market.

The proposal also contains clearer rules on promotional campaigns, national incentives to promote higher classes of efficiency and aims to improve enforcement mechanisms and transparency towards customers by creating a database of products covered by energy labelling requirements.

Main new elements of the regulation

Labels already in use before 1 August 2017 will be rescaled by the European Commission, i.e. recalibrated to conform with the new regulation.

The Commission adopts a separate delegated act for each specific product group to supplement the regulation. This establishes detailed requirements for labelling of specific product groups where:

  • the product group has significant potential for energy saving;
  • within the product group, equivalent models have significantly different levels of performance;
  • there is no significant negative impact in terms of affordability or the overall costs of the product group.

Delegated acts relating to specific product groups specify, among other things:

  • the specific product group which is to be covered by the detailed labelling requirements;
  • the design and content of the label, including a scale showing consumption of energy consisting of A to G, which should have a uniform design across product groups;
  • other information emphasising the energy efficiency of the product;
  • where appropriate, a reference in the label identifying products that are energy smart, i.e. capable of adapting and optimising consumption patterns;
  • the measurement and calculation methods to be used to determine label and product information, including the definition of the energy efficiency index (EEI);
  • the evaluation date and possible revision date of the delegated act;
  • differences in energy performances in different climatic regions.

The supplier and dealer responsibilities are to:

  • display the energy efficiency class of the product and the range of classes available on the label;
  • cooperate with market surveillance authorities and take immediate action to remedy any non-compliance;
  • for products covered by delegated acts, not display other information likely to mislead customers about energy consumption;
  • for products not covered by delegated acts, or non-energy related products, not display labels which mimic those under this regulation.

Dealers, including online dealers, must display the label provided by the supplier and make available to customers the product information sheet at the point of sale.

The Commission will establish a product registration database:

  • to support market surveillance authorities in carrying out their tasks, including enforcement;
  • to provide the public with information about products, their energy labels and product information sheets;
  • to provide the Commission with up-to-date energy efficiency information to review energy labelling.

The database will allow the public to consult product labels and information sheets, making it easier to compare the energy efficiency of household appliances.

The regulation also requires manufacturers to inform consumers if software or firmware (software that is embedded in a piece of hardware and serves as the interface between that hardware and the operating system, e.g. on a smartphone or computer) updates could reduce a product’s energy efficiency. It bans the use of ‘defeat devices’, which alter a product’s performance under test conditions.

By 2 August 2025, the Commission will assess the implementation of this regulation and submit a report to the European Parliament and to the Council.

The Regulation has applied since 1 August 2017, except for the obligations of suppliers in relation to the product database which apply from 1 January 2019.


The eco-label is a voluntary environmental labelling system.  It enables consumers to identify high-quality, eco-friendly products. The label may be awarded in consideration of European environmental and ethical objectives including

  • impact on climate change,
  • nature and biodiversity,
  • energy and resource consumption,
  • generation of waste,
  • pollutants,
  • emissions substitution of hazardous substances by safer substances;
  • durability and reusability of products;
  • the ultimate impact on the environment including on consumer health and safety;
  • compliance with ethical and social standards;
  • reduced animal testing.

The label may not be awarded to products containing substances classified as toxic, hazardous to the environment, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or substances subject to the regulatory framework for the management of chemicals.

States must designate one or more bodies responsible for the labelling process at the national level. Their operations must be transparent and open to the involvement of all parties.  They are responsible for regularly checking if the products comply with label criteria.  Their role includes receiving complaints, informing the public, monitoring false advertising, and prohibiting products.

In order to be awarded, businesses must submit an application to one or more states and send it to the competent national authority.  Where the product complies with the labelling criteria, the competent bodies will enter a contract with the operators, in relation to the terms of use and withdrawal of the label.  The operator may then place the label on the product.

The use of the label is subject to the payment of a fee when the application is made and an annual fee.  The Commission has published a catalogue of products which have been awarded the label.

The Commission established a committee, the European Union Eco-Labelling Board representing the national body.  The Commission shall consult the board in developing or revising award criteria.

New Buildings

There is mandatory energy performance certification for buildings. States must adopt a methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings taking account of

  • the thermal capacity of buildings;
  • heating installation and hot water supply;
  • air-conditioning installation;
  • built-in lighting installation;
  • indoor climatic conditions.

The positive influence of other factors such as local solar exposure, natural lighting, electricity by co-generation or district or block heating or cooling systems is taken into account.

New buildings must comply with requirements and undergo a feasibility study before construction starts, looking at the installation of renewable energy supply systems, heat pumps, district or block heating or cooling systems and co-generation systems.

In undergoing a major renovation, existing buildings must have their energy performance upgraded so that they satisfy the minimum requirements.

The following may be exempted:-

  • officially protected buildings;
  • buildings used as places of worship;
  • temporary buildings;
  • residential buildings for a limited annual lease;
  • stand-alone buildings less than 50 square meters.

New building systems such as heating systems, hot water systems, air conditioning systems or large ventilation systems must comply with the energy performance requirements.

A directive encourages the introduction of energy consumption metering when a building is constructed or undergoes renovation.

By 2021 all new buildings are to be nearly zero-energy-consumption buildings.  Public buildings must comply with criteria by 2019. The Commission required national plans.  The plans included

  • member states’ application of the definition of nearly zero-energy buildings;
  • intermediate targets for improving the performance of buildings by 2015;
  • initiation of policies and financial measures to encourage or improve the energy performance of buildings;

Existing Buildings

States must implement a system for the energy performance certification of buildings.  It must include information on the energy performance of the buildings and recommendations for improvements.

Where a building or building unit is offered for sale or rent, the energy performance certificate must  be included in advertisements and commercial media.

When buildings are constructed, sold, or rented out, the certificate is to be shown to the new tenant or prospective buyer and handed over to the buyer or tenant.

With regard to buildings with a floor area of over 500 square meters occupied by a public authority and  buildings which are frequently visited by the public, the energy performance certificate should be displayed in a permanent place and be visible.

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