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Aesthetics are of key importance when selecting new appliances: a sleek induction hob will give a very different look and feel to a more homely AGA or range cooker. However, when choosing appliances, many people get drawn into believing bigger is also better – with little thought given to the energy efficiency of the product or the cost to run it.
Of course, appliances need to pull their weight all year round – for the day-to-day needs of the immediate household but also for occasions when the wider family descends and greater capacity is needed. However, a supersize fridge, that’s rarely at full capacity may not be an environmentally-friendly choice.
Here we look at energy labels (a colour-coded scale with relative letters depicting how efficient the product will be to run) and explain how they’ve recently changed. If you’re currently considering installing a new bespoke kitchen and appliances, you’ll glean a good understanding of all the different factors that make up an energy rating to help you keep utility bills to a minimum whilst also remaining kind to the environment.
The history of energy labels
Energy labels were introduced by the EU in 1995, originally spanning a scale of A-D, with A being the most efficient. Over time, many advances in technology were made, resulting in a large number of appliances hitting the much sought-after A rating. However, as technological advancement continued, the scale had to be extended to account for these new improvements, and thus A+, A++, and A+++ were introduced.
Technology continued to develop until the vast majority of appliances met the criteria for the highest bracket. This caused much confusion for consumers who struggled to determine which really were the most efficient.
Redesigning the scale
In 2021, the energy labels were redesigned, now spanning from A-G. These changes brought tighter restrictions on the classification of appliances, making it much harder for manufacturers to achieve an A rating. These changes have futureproofed the scale, with most products now rated much lower, leaving room for technological improvements and encouraging manufacturers to continue making their products even more efficient.
Each appliance is assessed individually, but the changes roughly downgraded existing ratings from A+++ to B/C, A++ to D/E, and A+ to F/G. This does not mean that the appliance is any less efficient than it was before, they’re simply rated differently.
What else has changed on the new labels?
The new energy labels are easily distinguished from the old style by the Union Jack displayed at the top, which has now replaced the EU flag. The new labels also show a QR code, which can be easily scanned by a smartphone camera to display official information for that specific appliance.
Below the new energy scale, there are updated pictograms to show which testing methods have been used, as well as identify key features of the product. Another new addition to the labels is a noise rating, which spans from A-D, with the appliance’s noise emissions shown in decibels. This is an important factor to consider when choosing appliances for open-plan rooms, or for those who run appliances overnight, such as washing machines or dishwashers.
Washing machines, washer dryers, and dishwashers are now rated on the efficiency of their ‘eco’ mode. Advancements over the years have meant that the performance of eco settings is now comparable with that of other settings and can be used as a standard.
Here is an example of a new energy label for washing machines:
Not every kitchen appliance has received a re-designed label. Here is the extra information you can expect to see on the other labels that have been released so far:
-Energy consumption in kWh, per year of use
-The capacity of chilled and frozen compartments, in litres
Wine storage refrigerators
-Energy consumption, per year of use
-Capacity, displayed as maximum number of wine bottles
All information for washer dryers is displayed twice, once concerning washing functions and the other for drying.
-Energy consumption for the eco setting, per 100 washes
-Capacity, in kg
-Water consumption of the eco setting, in litres
-Duration of an eco cycle
-Energy consumption for the eco setting, per 100 cycles
-Duration of the eco setting
-Energy consumption, per 1000 hours of use for both SDR (standard dynamic range) and HDR (high dynamic range)
-Resolution level, in pixels