By Douglas Herbison, Chief Executive AMDEA, Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Electrical Appliances
Are you thinking of buying a new fridge, freezer, dishwasher or washing machine? Did you know that these appliances now feature at-a-glance descriptions of their ‘green credentials’? If this sounds a bit scientific, it isn’t. New easy-to-read labelling, introduced across the EU, is designed to help you save money and encourage energy-saving when buying or replacing these products.
The savings you can make are now more important than ever, as new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal the cost of our annual fuel bills has almost doubled from £740 to £1,345 in the last five years alone – and the hikes show no sign of abating. With salaries practically static and other household costs escalating, energy bills are now helping to push one in four households into fuel poverty. (A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its annual income on fuel).
Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your energy bills and consumption, including installing energy monitors and analysing your energy usage. The revised labelling on domestic appliances will also allow you to weigh up any extra cost of purchase versus the carbon dioxide emissions, energy and money you can save over its lifetime. Every kWh (electrical unit) you save costs about 14p in 2011 and could cost at least double that in 2015.
In addition to the original and generally recognisable A-G classification labelling scheme, three new grades have been added to the new labelling system: A+, A++ and A+++. This means that A+++ is now ‘best’ classification in terms of a machine’s energy efficiency and D now ‘worst’ classification for this particular group of appliances. And the greener the arrow on the label, the lower the appliance’s energy consumption.
Energy efficiency is one of the key ways to reduce household spending and the wide range of new high-efficiency appliances can halve the cost of chilling our food and drink.. At current energy prices this can represent from £30 to £100 a year depending on the age of the existing fridge/freezer. With spiralling energy prices taken into account, the difference can run into hundreds of pounds over the life time of a new appliance.
The revised EU labels carry simple symbols - thumbnail-sized line drawings which demonstrate a machine’s performance and characteristics, such as fridge/freezer storage capacity, a dishwasher’s annual water consumption (as water use of each household will soon be metered), the number of place settings or kilo weight of the wash load - even a washing machine’s noise levels in decibels during washing and spinning cycles.
These valuable symbols will help you make comparisons between models and enable you to buy the space or capacity that fits your family’s needs. A comprehensive description of each new appliance provided by the manufacturer ensures it ‘does what it says on the label.’
All washing machines and dishwashers placed on the market since 20 December 2011 must be supplied with these new labels. Fridges and freezers had an earlier deadline of 30 November 2011.
A handy guide to EU labelling can be downloaded from AMDEA’s Time to Change website. To check out how much you could save, go to http://www.t2c.org.uk/calculator/ and tap in the year you bought your white goods.