A replaces A+++: EU streamlines energy label

The energy label is to be redesigned in a way that is easy to understand for everyone: a few days ago, the European Union agreed that it will stop adding plusses to its energy label categories and return to a simple A to G scale.

Three children paiting an energy label on a wall.© gettyimages/Severin Schweiger

Consumers will no longer need to count the number of plusses displayed behind the letters A to G in order to identify which appliances are particularly energy-efficient. Using a mediation procedure, representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council agreed to phase out the A+ to A+++ categories of the energy label that applies to fridges, TVs and other products across the EU.

In the preceding Council negotiations, Germany had called for the introduction of a clear and meaningful energy efficiency label. State Secretary Rainer Baake from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy welcomed the agreement. He said: “Surveys show that 85 per cent of the European population take the energy label into account when they buy a product. So it is good that we will remove the confusing plusses that are currently used on the label and return to the clear and easy-to-understand A to G scale.”

A new product database will be built

In order to allow consumers and market surveillance authorities to obtain better information on the products that use the energy label, an EU-wide product database will be introduced. This database will allow users to compare the energy efficiency of different appliances and therefore choose the most efficient one.

The next step now is for the European Parliament and the Council to formally approve the Commission’s proposal in the second reading. The regulation is expected to enter into force in mid-2017. It sets out the procedure for how the transition from the A+++ to the new A to G label is to be made and sets deadlines for when the transition is to be completed. Products that use the new labels will be available in shops in around two years.

‘A’ will permanently stand for the highest level of energy efficiency

The energy efficiency label with the colour scale ranging from green (= very efficient) to red (= very inefficient) was introduced 20 years ago and covers more than 16 product categories. The letters A to G have been used for even longer than that. ‘A’ was used for the most energy-efficient products. However, as products became ever more efficient, plusses were added to take account of the fact that new products were even more efficient than their predecessors. As a result, appliances that featured an ‘A’, seemed to be very energy-efficient when there actually were far more efficient products on the market. In the future, ‘A’ will once again be used to mark the most energy-efficient products. When a new label is introduced, category ‘A’, and for particularly dynamic products categories ‘A’ and ‘B’, will not be used and remain open in order to be able to respond to future developments.